Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Where do you get your ideas

The other day there was a discussion among writers about titles. One author said she started the book with little more than the title. It was an odd title but she got a book out of it.

Which brings me to where writers get their ideas. Anywhere. Everywhere. In the strangest of places.

For most of us, it's just letting the imagination run wild. That's easy for me. When I get in a car, I always check the back seat. I can scare myself way too easily. I also always keep an eye on the car behind me. In Montana, there is usually only one or two cars behind me for miles on end. That's because I usually drive over the speed limit. :)

But what if one of those cars is following me? I mean really following me. I start thinking about who could be behind the wheel. Why they're after me. What I've done to make them want to kill me. (All logical steps in a writer's crazed mind.)

When I was writing short stories for Woman's World magazine, I would get a lot of my ideas from country western songs -- the sadder ones the better. Now I find myself getting ideas from TV commercials. One the other day involved a house and a porch swing. A short story came to mind and I was tempted to write it even though I need to work on the six books I'm writing this year.

I have dreamed some pretty wild entire plots. I usually wake myself up if I think the plot is too good to waste. Unfortunately the plots often have some major flaws once I'm fully awake.

I've seen cowboys at the rodeo, overheard conversations at the grocery store and read billboards that have inspired entire books. Last year I saw one line: Can you keep a secret? I quickly reached for my AlphaSmart and started writing. I wrote the opening of Big Sky Dynasty, part of the Corbett Brothers, Whitehorse, Montana series that comes out in June.

Next month's book, Hunting Down the Horseman, came from stories about old ghost towns in the area of Montana where I live. Like Stephen King, I'm intrigued by the idea that evil remains in some places -- and invites more evil to stop by.

My September book, Smokin' Six Shooter, started with a woman finding out that she'd inherited some property in Montana that she'd never heard about. What she inherits is far more frightening and mysterious of course than land. Ever thought about what would happen if you found out you aren't the person you thought you were and that your entire life has been a lie?

Probably not. I often ask my husband questions like that. Funny but he doesn't think about those kinds of things. Then again, he writes nonfiction. Now where is the fun in that?


  1. Ahh BJ, if not for writers with vivid imagination....where would us readers be? :D!

    I agree with you on places that have residual or left-over emotions, in my home state of West Virginia you are more than likely to run across an old house falling in on itself. But from most of them I get a feeling of kinship and family. Even though the house is no longer habitable, from the overgrown lilac bush, the roses rambling out of control and the fruit trees along the back of the property; I imagine the love and sense of family striving to provide during those past days of hardship.

    Of course; there's a few scary ones too!*g*

  2. You are so right about there being other residual emotions besides evil! I have seen some of those homes down south and often wondered about the people who lived them. Thanks for reminding me that not every house has bad memories. :)