I’m one of the few writers who has never been asked where my ideas for stories come from. I’ve heard it’s a common question. Sitting at my computer thinking on ideas, I stopped and wondered about my answer to that question. Hmm…where do my ideas for fiction come from?
I’m pretty sure if someone had asked me this question a few years back I would have said my ideas come from life around me. There is so much diversity of life that the “What if” question can result in many story answers. What if planet Earth had two suns? What if two sisters who truly loved one another decided to work together? What if those sisters were orphaned at a young age? What would be their underlying issues that drive them?
So yes, life is full of ideas for stories. As an author, my problem is not so much having too few ideas but having ideas popping up all the time.
But sitting at my computer I realized my ideas come from some of my basic beliefs: Life is not what we think it is; average individuals are true heroes; internal problems drive us but typically are the way out of pain and lack of awareness.
I want to triumph the ordinary hero and heroine and illustrate how great humans can be, so my stories develop around characters with heart. I consider the man down the street who has clarity about how to live a life of inner strength and quality character. Or the young woman at the grocery store who feels different but faces what that does to her and comes out on the other side of it with more self-awareness and respect for herself. Those struggles are very human, and the way characters travel those types of journeys can speak to life lessons we all can benefit from.
Here’s an excerpt from Dancing with Detective Danger in which heroine Lacy Aegar faces her fear of letting down her walls of protection and getting hurt, a coping mechanism from childhood when her father was murdered.
started, just as the streak of black and brown fur rambunctiously rounded the corner. “Mr. Teeth! What is he doing here? He’s still limping?” Sterling
Ben crouched to corral the dog, and began scratching him affectionately under the chin. “The neighbors at the condo said his name is Joe, not Mr. Teeth. Somebody had to take him in. The animal control guys wanted to keep him, but he’s our only witness to the Witt murder.”
“Excuse me, did you say witness?”
“Yes, witness. And yes, he’s limping. The vet said he has a bruised muscle. Probably got kicked.”
Sterling watched uneasily, thinking of stepping out through the still open front door. “Well that might explain why Lacey and I could get away from him at the condo, he had a lame leg. You two seem to have hit it off.”
“He’s not so ferocious once you get to know him. He’s all bark. Besides, we have a lot in common. We’re both trying to get over broken hearts.”
Sterling’s temper instantly flared. “It won’t work, you know. Your little comments won’t change anything. You’re only driving me crazy!”
“I’m driving you crazy? I’m driving you crazy?” Ben stood to face her as Joe ambled away into the living room.
“Yes.” Slamming her hands on her hips,
stared Ben down. “Your comments keep bringing up old stuff. Stuff we settled two years ago.” Sterling
In one second, he slammed the door shut and strode close to her. Standing inches from
’s face, Ben peered down at her. “We never settled anything. You may have, I don’t know, but we never settled anything.” Sterling
Ben’s eyes locked hers and suddenly Sterling felt her walls tumble. The pain filling his face gripped her heart. She knew she caused it. She had never meant to hurt him so terribly. Doing the right thing shouldn’t be so painful. Caught between the fear of what could happen and the agony of the moment, Sterling closed her eyes and collapsed against his chest. “I’m so sorry, Ben.” Ben’s body, rigid and hard, instantly drew up the buried cravings for his touch from deep and low inside her. As she let her mind relax, she felt a matching response, the taut muscles of his chest molding to her body.
It’s in these moments when average individuals challenge their status quo that their lives can change, and that is exciting fodder for story ideas.
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