Friday, February 27, 2009

How Do I Come Up With Story Ideas?

Story ideas come to me at the most inconvient times: while I'm doing research on the book I'm writing, while I'm in the shower, or the most dreaded the middle of the night.

Research can become a treasure of ideas. For instance, as I studied the battles of the stripling warriors, I found the writings of Hugh Nibley. He was such a brilliant man. While reading his Teachings of the Book of Mormon series I was introduced to so many wonderful heroes; endless stories can be written about them.

Stories that come to me in the shower usually happen when my hair is lathered up with suds and the hot shower steam is making me relax. One time while in this situation, I suddenly realized a secondary character in the book I was currently writing was taking over the story. What I needed to do was write a story for the secondary character. I was happy that another book would come out of it, but I was also sad because I'd have to delete ten to twenty pages of my current book and start over.

Stories that come to me while I'm sleeping... I can't tell you how many times I've awakened about 2:00 a.m. and can't go back to sleep. Come follow me on a sleepless night.

I'm determined to stay in bed just in case I dooze off. So what happens with the light off and no pen or paper handy? My mind starts to wonder and "what if" scenarios pop into my head. What if...there was a woman staying alone in a cabin and in the middle night she heard a scratching sound coming from the attic? Okay, so what if...the woman decided to see what was making that scratching noise? She puts on her bathrobe and slippers, grabs a flashlight...oh and a weapon... She doesn't own a gun, so what does she take? A baseball bat...but where would she get said baseball bat? What if the woman has a son? He's is all grown up now, but some of his things are still at the cabin. Good validation. Now the story can continue. She grabs her son's old baseball bat and tries to quietly inch up creaky attic steps. She reaches for the door, but all at once it is flung open and before her stands...

Okay, now I'm getting a headache. I fall out of bed and stumble to the kitchen to make some cocoa. As I'm stirring the hot liquid in the cup, I'm once again pulled back into the story...What if standing before her is ...? Do I want this to be fantasy? How about... it's a confused confederate soldier from the Civil War? That has possiblities. Or what if... it's her fairy godmother? No--better yet an angel that's been assigned to help her... No, I've got it; it's a vampire. Wait...that's probably been done. I've been watching too much Buffy. I take a sip of cocoa, still thinking of the story...What if it's her grandmother, who has been dead for at least ten years, and she hands her a cup of cocoa? That's original! I've got to go to bed, but before I can rinse out my cup and head for the covers another idea comes. What if the grandmother is there to tell the woman an old family secret?

Enough about how I come up with stories. How about you? Let's have a little fun. What family secret could the grandmother tell her granddaughter? Could be something dark and mysterious about the family, or it could be that the granddaughter has a special mission, or...?

Please let me know what you think.


  1. Stories wake me up in the middle of the night too. I just wish I had the stamina to finish writing a book!

    Thanks for your comment about my review. I really did enjoy the book. When does the sequel come out?

  2. Just keep writing and you'll get there. Sometimes writing a book takes several years to get it where you want it. I have several books patiently waiting for me to work on them.
    However, my publisher already has the sequel to The Forgotten Warrior, so it is up to them.



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