Writers are often asked where they get their ideas. The answer is easy: Everywhere! Newspapers, magazines, books, television, the Internet, any medium at all can offer thousands upon thousands of ideas for a story. And it doesn’t matter what genre you’re writing. Writers will often come upon the kernel of a story and not have a clue what to do with it, not at first. Then they’ll mentally ask themselves “What if?” And sometimes it’s just a matter of putting two separate thoughts together to come up with an idea.
For example, say you’re reading the morning paper with a cup of tea and you read an article in the travel section about a castle in Scotland. Visitors to the castle report that strange things happen when they stay there. Not bad things, just curious movements, lights, and sounds.
Hmm. You say to yourself, where’s the story idea there? Well, what if the happenings could be linked to a female ghost? You do a bit of research and find out that in 1291 a daughter of a lord was locked in her chamber by her overbearing father because he suspected her of having an affair with one of the local gentlemen who was socially beneath her. The girl, desperate to escape her prison, tried to escape out the chamber’s one window and fell to her death.
What could you do with that information? Does she truly haunt the castle? Is she seeking revenge against her male ancestors? There’s the start of a story...perhaps a work of horror. Does she haunt the castle halls seeking the love she once lost…perhaps you have a romance. There’s a hundred ways to spin the tale and a hundred authors would come up with a hundred different storylines.
See? It’s really an easy thing. All you have to do is ask yourself “What if?” What if someone took control of all the United States' electric grid? What if a knight from the Middle Ages fell in love with a Muslim princess? That’s the question I asked myself when I started work on my upcoming May 2010 book Seducing the Knight.
What ideas have you had recently by asking yourself “What if?”