Saturday, January 9, 2010

In the beginning . . . There was an idea!

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?”

7 comments:

EmilyBryan January 9, 2010 at 5:50 PM  

Ooo! I like your Scottish ghost story! Have you used it in anything yet?

Candi Wall January 9, 2010 at 6:53 PM  

Gerri,

This is so true! Anywhere and everywhere there are story potentials!

I'm guitly of having a plethora of scribbled upon napkins, envelopes, reciepts - anythign handy, to jot down sudden inspirations.

One of my current WIP came from reading about a woman who took employment with an elderly gentleman. The gentleman ultimatly found that she was running from a shady past, but when her past caught up with her, he offered her to stay on a continue to live her new life.

I mean that just screams long way around to HEA!

Candi~

Gerri Russell January 9, 2010 at 8:29 PM  

Candi,

What a great story! I can see soooo much potential there. And I'm with you, my office is filled with scraps of precious papers with snippets of dialogue, ideas, words, etc.

Gerri Russell January 9, 2010 at 8:32 PM  

Emily,

No, I haven't used the ghost idea yet. It was just an example. But look what can happen when you ask, "What if?"

librarypat January 9, 2010 at 10:12 PM  

On another blog this evening they were asking what plot you would use for a story, a similar idea. As usual, my "what if" plot line got carried away.
"I like Beauty and The Beast plot lines, so it would be along those lines.
A young woman scarred in body and soul has chosen to live away from modern society as the caretaker of a natural area in the Adirondacks in NY. She sketches wildlife and the scenery, supplementing her income. The handsome nephew of the owner of one of the summer estates in the area, sees her pictures and seeks her out to do one of his uncle’s lodge."
Can never stop at a one line plot thought. They just seem to grow and develop on their own.
Like the castle ghost line, but I'm not going to start on that one.

Gerri Russell January 10, 2010 at 12:50 PM  

LibraryPat,

Your storyline sounds really intriguing! Thanks for stopping by!

Bonnie Vanak January 12, 2010 at 12:14 PM  

Good points, Gerri. "What if" is a favorite of mine, too.

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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