Friday, December 6, 2013

The Great Idea Fairy

Yes, that’s exactly where story ideas come from.

Wow! You mean they're real!?!

Sometime, in the middle of the night, the Great Idea Fairy squeezes her voluptuous self through my partially opened bedroom window (I need fresh air when I sleep), and whacks me over the head with her hefty magic storybook.
 I wish.

Paul's chance to be a hero. Did he blow it?
For me, it can be difficult to find the source of my next tale, and it often isn’t where I expect it to be. If I’m lucky, the story I’ve just written suggests the next. That happened with Levels of Deception. I was deep into editing Death By A Dark Horse and the characters were flexing their muscles, begging to go off on more adventures. Paul wanted to go to Montana and dig up dinosaur bones and Thea, fresh from victory, was wanting to be a hero again. Okay, to be honest, Paul wanted a shot at hero, too.

Did I want to make them happy? Darned right I did. They were fun and adventurous. And what better way to make them happy than give them both what they wanted – which had to put them in direct conflict with each other.

That made me happy. Nothing like two people struggling to “make it work” and ready to sacrifice it all for that goal. Throw in a murder and danger from an unknown source, to up the stakes, and … Wow! My hands are already sweating!

A real-life baddie inspired this story.
Shooting to Kill, the most recent in the series, had it’s source in an article I read about a real person. The article gave me the creeps, and I wondered how someone who was more than a bubble and a half off plumb could con so many smart people and not be found out until something violent happened. What would it take to coexist with someone like this? I knew the ends would they go to in order to accomplish their goal, but what would happen if someone stepped into their path?

Obviously, here was a job for Thea and Paul.  

Lacking a personal Great Idea Fairy, I fall back on gaming out the old “what if” theme. How do I choose which of the many ideas to use? There are plus points if my protagonists can be in conflict with each other as well as other characters. I like to stir things up. Other than that, well, if I can imagine some humor and unusual twists I’ve likely got myself a story to tell.

Because every writer has his or her own twist on story creation, I’ve enlisted a number of my writer-friends to reveal the spark that drives their creativity. Over the coming weeks a variety of authors whose styles and processes differ from mine will stop by. It'll be fun to get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes workings of some very talented folks. I'm looking forward to it!

Sigh. Please, don't tell me you believe her drivel about who comes up with the stories. And I'm NOT voluptuous.


  1. I always like using what ifs as the jumping off point for writing.

    1. It all comes down to that, doesn't it, William? Something may grab your attention, but in order to make it into a story you have to go to the next step: what if ...?
      Do you have any "go to" places for your initial ideas that are worthy of a "what if"?