Without thinking about this month's question, I had already posted a bit about my current idea. I'm doing a series of reports on how this particular story grows (or story setting -- I think I see far more than a single piece for this one). You can find it here. You can, in fact, see all the posts for the Water/Stone/Light project by clicking on the label in the right hand column.
Since the new project is so well documented already, I'm going to look at a couple older pieces and where those ideas came from.
How do I get ideas? How do writers not get ideas? They're everywhere.
Once, while coming back from the bookstore with Russ, I was glancing through a book about important Greek women. I read a little piece to Russ and said "I can see an entire book in that paragraph."
He laughed and said I could find a story in street signs.
About six blocks later:
Me -- I have it.
Russ -- Have what?
Me -- It's a trilogy. The first book is Caution: Children at Play. That's the story of a young man's childhood in a poor part of town and of his dreams to get out and how he starts pushing that way, breaking away from friends and family.
Book 2 is Do Not Enter about his growing power in a company that he eventually takes over, and his ruthlessness as he pushes it to the top and makes a fortune, whatever the cost to friends, lovers and business partners.
Book 3 is Dead End when he has grown older and finally realizes all it has cost him to make his fortune and decides to make amends before he dies.
At the next stop sign Russ hit me over the head with the book.
I never wrote that trilogy. I rarely write contemporary stories, but the idea has always stayed with me. Simple idea: it would take a lot more than those easy answers to make it into anything interesting, of course. But it does show that if you open yourself to ideas, you can find them. The mass of plot bunnies are everywhere, waiting to swarm. You just have to find the ones that will actually work for you.
What about ones I have written? Silky (and the rest of the trilogy) came directly from a book titled Disraeli, A Picture of the Victorian Age by Andre Maurois (the Hamish Miles translation). The moment I finished the book I knew I wanted to write the story about a young man in a position of power where he never should have been because of his background. You can clearly see the direct line from the book to Silky.
A seven volume history of World War I by General March led to a science fiction epic called Vita's Vengeance. The link is not so easily seen this time, except that the novel is a story of war and a fight for survival.
Reading the 13 volumes of the Grizmek Encyclopedia of Life brought so many new ideas I can't even begin to track most of them. I do know that some information about lizards and birds worked its way into the creation of The Dragon Clans for A Plague of Rats. Imagining them led to the rest of the book.
Reading Greek plays brought on Xenation: Draw the Line, a science fiction novel about an ancient and abandoned alien station and the humans (and others) trying to figure it out. There is a hint of where this idea was born in the opening quote:
There hath gone up a cry from earth, a groaning for the fallOf things of old renown and shapes majestical
Prometheus Bound, Aechylus
Just that line set up the tone for me of something ancient, forgotten . . . and dangerous.
I found the idea for Beware the Wrath of Bunny Hunter while doing a test picture for some new computer generated models from DAZ3D.com so I could do the week's newsletter. You can see the picture and the first draft opening here.
Not all my stories are so easy to pin down. Many come from ideas melding together for a period of time, growing in the back of my mind until something finally takes shape and I see a vision of a new story.
There are ideas everywhere. I get many of mine in nonfiction reading because I would rather go to the source than borrow from other fiction, but that doesn't mean reading a good fiction book or watching a good show doesn't give me yet more ideas.
Once you open your mind to seeing ideas in the world, it's hard to turn it back off . . . But I can tell you I am never bored and I always have something to write.
If you want to get to read about nearly twenty other writers and find out what's on their nightstands, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Be sure to read tomorrow's post by Sharon Kemmerer