Sunday, April 13, 2008
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
That's the question I'm asked most often by non-writers. It should be easy to answer, right? A writer sits down in front of his/her computer and the words simply flow. In only a few days--maybe even hours!--a perfect novel has been completed and is ready for the publisher. Bring on the seven-figure advance!
I'll start with where I get my ideas. Everywhere. Yeah, that's a broad statement, but it's true. For instance, I wrote a story called The Birthday Gift that I submitted to Ellora's Cave. I sent it to the submissions email, expecting to wait months to hear anything. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an acceptance in only two days. My editor then told me the story was too short to be its own book. Did I by any chance have any other birthday-themed stories I'd like to include to make a collection? "Well, of course!" I told her. "No problem!"
I had nothing.
So as I'm racking my brain to think of three other stories with a birthday theme, we had a birthday party for one of my co-workers. I bought her a card with a sexy man on the front. Another co-worker teased me by rubbing her finger over the guy's...privates. Bingo! An idea flashed into my mind about a guy on a card who comes to life. Another plot born.
A few days later, the birthday girl told a story about seeing a weird light whoosh by her car on her way home from work. Another bingo! An alien crash lands on Earth on the hero's birthday.
Those three stories, along with another one I thought of myself, became Happy Birthday, Baby.
Yes, ideas come from everywhere, and at any time...even in the bathroom. Getting those ideas on the computer into a plot that a publisher will like...well, that's a whole 'nuther topic.
So, where do you get your ideas?