Friday, November 10, 2006

Where Do Fiction Ideas Come From?

Everywhere.

The old saying that a writer is always working is true. A writer is never truly off the clock. We're notorious people watchers -- constantly gathering information (mostly without even realizing it) for future characters. So whenever we're around other people be it at a party or sitting in a restaurant details are being stored away on notepad or brain. These details are anything from an interesting eye color to a particular way a person holds their fork to a strange pattern of speech. Anything and everything.

That is one of a writer's most valuable tools -- observation.

Eavesdropping, intentionally or not, often brings about very interesting subplots or twists. I gleaned one twist for the sequel to Apparitions -- Windigo -- (also a horror / suspense novel) by overhearing a snippet of a rant. I wasn't intentionally listening but managed to walk by at the right time to hear just enough to make a nice 'what if'.

Some writers get ideas from newspapers. Personally I never read the things unless an article title hits me in the face and I can't resist.

Glancing through magazines at doctor's or dentist's offices. These are a treasure trove of character ideas, stories or histories. Sometimes stories.

Catalogs -- yes, believe it or not. I'm going to leave the piece of jewelry I saw a mystery, as I'm using it as a basis for a future plot. But, I will say I got a nice nugget for a plot from browsing through a catalog and finding a neat piece of jewelry…to which the 'What If' engine started churning.

Dreams. I had a vivid nightmare last night actually that will go into my book of Notions to be hammered into a plot. Though it disturbed my sleep and hubby's (he heard me and woke me up) I think it was worth it. I get a lot of my plots and subplots this way, usually for my horror stories.

General observations. This one is in a tie with dreams as a plot source. Driving or walking along in life often brings about the most astounding 'What Ifs'. Anything from an eerie looking tree to a strange house to a paper floating aimlessly. Anything can cause that germ of an idea to sprout.

In the end all of it comes down to an open mind, observation and the willingness to let your mind play with the mundane and concoct new and strange tales.

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About the author -

Raven Bower is the author of the upcoming horror / suspense novel, Apparitions (ArcheBooks March 2007)

Apparitions Blog

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3 Comments:

Anonymous markus niemi said...

Heh. That was one question I was often asked when my comrades in the Marines found out I was a writer. "Where can you come up with the ideas?"

"When do you time to do the research?"

My answer was always the same; "I don't have to go looking for ideas, they come to me." And so they do, wether I want them or not. Damn my fickle muses...

Unlike at some professions, writers are never 'off duty'. We're always working, plotting or making up new ideas for stories or working on existing ones.

Which... is a good thing for us, and bad thing for those who bother us. >:)

-Mark

Fri Nov 10, 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Raven Bower said...

What's odd is I find it more difficult to get ideas if I'm trying rather than not. Usually they hit when I least expect it.

Sat Nov 11, 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Markus Niemi said...

Or least want them. That's when I usually get a load of ideas.

The muses are most fickle creatures.

Sat Nov 11, 11:42:00 AM  

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