Guest post by Kelli A. Wilkins
As anyone who has heard my interviews on Blog Talk radio already knows, I divide my time between writing erotic romances and spooky horror stories, so naturally one of the most common questions I’m asked in interviews is: “Where do you get your ideas?”
Here’s a hint: they’re not stored in a warehouse in Upstate NY (as one popular writer teased) or in a secret database. The short answer is: Everywhere. Ideas are everywhere – if you know where and how to look for them.
Writers tend to be people-watchers (some call it being nosy) and spend time observing life around them. Any seemingly innocent person on the street, a snippet of conversation, or a creepy locale can appeal to our vivid imaginations and spark a story idea. In short, writers find ideas everywhere.
Stories often come from observing something (for example, a car in a lake) and then develop as the writer uses his or her imagination to get to the heart of the story. Bits and pieces of other ideas are added in until the final product is a blend of several ideas and/or observations. So, although it may seem like the author wrote the story based on one clever idea, the story is often a compilation of many ideas woven together.
Some of my Amber Quill Press romances were inspired by strange ideas. Here’s a short list:
A Most Unusual Princess – The opening scene of Dalton watching Elara “bathing” popped into my head and I began wondering “what sort of princess does that in broad daylight?”
The Sexy Stranger – I had an idea for a hot guy kidnapping a woman – and then played around with it. He quickly discovers that he’s taken the wrong woman!
Trust with Hearts – The idea for this book came to me just before a concert. I took notes on scraps of paper and started writing the outline the next day.
Beauty & the Bigfoot – I couldn’t get the idea of a Bigfoot hunter’s daughter falling in love with Bigfoot out of my head. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but reviewers loved the book!
A Perfect Match – The idea for this wrestling romance came to me in a dream. I had to start writing the outline the second I woke up!
How can you find ideas to inspire your next book, article, or short story? Go somewhere (the mall, a store, the park, anywhere) and look around. Put away all of your electronic devices and watch people (notice what they’re doing, what they’re wearing, how they interact with one another, listen in on their conversations) and let your mind wander. Ask yourself what might happen next – or – what might have happened five minutes before you saw that person.
For a writing exercise, pick a person (or an event) and write a paragraph or two about it. When you’re not writing, keep a list of things that capture your attention and think about how you could develop them into a story. Remember, a great idea can come from an ordinary occurrence, such as a car being towed, a dog escaping its leash, or a woman pushing an empty stroller. Keep your eyes (and mind) open for possibilities. You never know where an idea will take you!
This is the first of a four-part series. Next time, we play the “what if” game!
Kelli A. Wilkins