One of the questions often asked of writers is “where do you get your ideas”. I’m never asked that question, and hence my worry that I’m not really a writer.
Also, that’s a trick question of sorts . . . we all get our ideas from the same place: our brains. Yes, that’s the snarky answer, but only because the question is not properly phrased. It should be “how do you come up with your ideas for stories”, emphasis on the “how”.
I contend we’re all natural-born storytellers and if you don’t believe me, just listen to yourself next time your significant others asks why you did or didn’t do something, or the next time your boss asks you why something is late or not working or both, and especially if you get audited by the IRS.
Consciously or unconsciously, people construct stories all the time, usually geared toward either getting oneself out of trouble or minimizing the consequences of said trouble. Now, just envision a situation where your character is in trouble, and go to town with your natural-born talent. Oh, and write it down; that’s the important bit.
That said, there are three ways my stories get crafted.
The first is by way of a vision. I don’t mean some Holy Smoke coming down and messing with my brain. No, it’s my own brain taking the aggregate of everything I’ve read, seen, or heard about in my life and envisioning a scene much like one would see in a movie. Usually, an awesome and interesting scene.
So, for instance, not something like this:
Evelyn started to open the drawer but Bill intervened.
“No!” he yelled, his hand stopping hers . “It’s too dangerous; I’ll do it.”
Bill gently moved her aside and then opened the drawer. There it sat, all innocent-like. Bill picked it up and attached it to the tuna can on the counter. After making sure it was secure, he turned the butterfly handle and a few minutes later, the can lay open, its content scenting the surrounding area. Albacore tuna made the best tuna salad.
He returned the can opener to the drawer, gave Evelyn a brief nod, and went back to cutting out paper snowflakes. Bill missed Evelyn’s comment.
“Idiot!” she said.
Sure, there is drama, tension, resolution, but it’s not exactly a vision of awesomeness.