Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where Do Those Book Ideas Come From?

If you're a published novelist, the question you're mostly likely to hear is, "Where do you get your ideas?" I always try to answer with a modicum of charm, but frankly, I tend to find this a silly question. Perhaps it's because the answer is so obvious to me. LIFE. Life in your bedroom, in your house, on your street, in your neighborhood, at the airport and schools and grocery store and church, riding in the car, walking down the street, eavesdropping on a conversation, watching TV, listening to the radio, reading the newspaper. And on and on and on. Like American Express, Life is everywhere you want to be. And wherever Life is, there is Story.

If all else fails, read the news, in hard print or online. Take a look at these stories I found yesterday at Reuters. There are hundreds of possible tales and plot points that could spin off from each one of these.

Pilots on Alert for High-Flying Vulture. Yup, a testy but somewhat lovable vulture, who can soar as high as 30,000 feet, caught air currents and was long gone from its owner. (I have to wonder: What does one expect when one lets a vulture fly?) Now pilots must be aware of a possible bird strike far higher than they'd considered.

Robber Nabbed After Mocking Police in Email. Moral to this story: when the newspaper gets the facts wrong about your heist, keep your mouth shut.

Woman Buries Brother, Discovers Dead Son. She thought her son was just ignoring her invitation to his uncle's funeral after they'd had a spat ... until the family stumbled over the son's grave marker in the cemetery.

Trafficers Hide Cocaine Under Rare Python. I wouldn't go looking for drugs there. Would you?

Gold Bullion Stolen From Florida Treasure Museum. Not just any gold bar worth $550,000--one recovered from the centuries-old wreck of a Spanish galleon.

Need I go on?

P.S.: Note the reader comments for the aticle about the gold bullion. All they want to do is complain about how bad the article is written. Forget that it's a fascinating story--they don't like the first sentence. Ah, we writers. Forever critiqued.


Regina Merrick said...

One has to wonder how the woman didn't KNOW that her SON was dead? Amazing. And yes, life is the BEST place to find stories. Thanks, Brandilyn! Truly inspired!

Jill Bratcher said...

Just yesterday the folks at recommended the obituaries - full of character profiles!

"There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages." - Mark Twain

Personally, I often dream a storyline. Just my kaleidoscope at work, I guess!