Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Where do authors get their ideas? Part 2!

Hi again everyone,

This week, we continue with Part Two in the series, “Where do you get your ideas?” Last week, I wrote about how ideas are everywhere and many story ideas often come from observing something (people, the surroundings, etc.) Now we’re going to take our powers of observation and imagination a step further and ask “What if?”

“What if…” is a great way to generate new ideas for articles, short fiction, and novels. Most stories start off with a “what if” premise (“What if there was a school for young wizards?”) and develop from there. As a writer, you can use your imagination to create endless “what if” scenarios and build stories around them.

Playing the “what if” game can also be a great tool to help you if you’re writing a story and develop writer’s block or if the plot is fizzling. Ask yourself “what if” and send your characters on a new adventure or alter their lives in a new direction.

Here are a few “What ifs?” from my Amber Quill Press romances:

What if the heroine reveals she had a secret love child? (The Pauper Prince)

What if the heroine finds a hidden room in the castle? (The Dark Lord)

What if a vampire went to the beach and fell in love? (Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover)

Using ‘what if’ can take your story into uncharted waters and deepen the plot, add emotion, and raise the stakes for your characters.

“What if” can be a great game to play, whether you’re using it as a tool to help move your writing along, to start a story, or just for fun as a writing exercise. Play the “what if” game the next time you’re observing your surroundings and watching people. (What if the red car doesn’t stop for the old man in the crosswalk? What if the woman in the restaurant is waiting for her secret lover?)

Just for fun: Here are some wild “what if” questions you can use for writing exercises:

What if… a fisherman found a live mermaid?

…an archeologist uncovered a UFO while excavating in Texas?

…your character inherited a haunted house---and knew the ghosts?

…a killer picks his victims according to their birth sign?

…the weird Goth kid down the block really is a vampire?

…a man in the witness protection program won the lottery and his secret life was revealed?

Once you start thinking in terms of “what if” keep asking yourself more questions to take the scenario further. For example, “What if a character murders someone and buries the body in his cellar? Then, what if his wife comes home and finds him covered in dirt (or blood)? What if the wife’s brother is a cop?”)

As you can see, once you start the “what if” game, the possibilities are endless, and you can take the story anywhere.

Next week, I’ll be sharing a preview of my upcoming contemporary romance, A Perfect Match!

Until next time,


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Where do authors get their ideas?

Hi everyone,

This week I’m addressing one of the most common questions writers are asked: “Where do you get your ideas?”

Every writer has been asked this mystifying question and the short answer is: Everywhere. Ideas are everywhere–if you know where and how to look for them.

Writers tend to be people-watchers (some call it being nosy) and spend time observing life around them. Any seemingly innocent person on the street, a snippet of conversation, or a creepy locale can appeal to our vivid imaginations and spark a story idea. In short, writers find ideas everywhere.

Stories often come from observing something (for example, a car in a lake) and then develop as the writer uses his/her imagination to get to the heart of the story. Bits and pieces of other ideas are added in until the final product is a blend of several ideas/observations.

Although it may seem like the author wrote the story based on one clever idea, the story is often a compilation of many ideas woven together. Other times, ideas for characters, stories, or scenes just pop in our heads and seem to magically create themselves – but this is rare.

How can you find ideas to inspire your next book? Go somewhere and look around. Watch the people (what they’re doing, how they interact with one another) and let your mind wander. Ask yourself what might happen next - or - what might have just happened.

For a writing exercise, pick a person (or an event) and write a paragraph or two about it. Keep a list of things that capture your attention and think about how you could develop them into a story. Remember, a great idea can come from an ordinary occurrence, such as a car being towed, a dog escaping its leash, or a woman pushing an empty stroller. Keep your eyes (and mind) open for possibilities.

Some of my books were inspired by strange ideas. Here’s a short list:

A Most Unusual Princess – The opening scene of Dalton watching Elara “bathing” popped into my head and I began wondering “what sort of princess is she?”

The Sexy Stranger I had an idea for a hot guy kidnapping a woman – and then played around with it. He quickly discovers that she’s the wrong woman!

Trust with Hearts The idea for this book came to me just before a country singer’s concert. I took notes on scraps of paper and started writing the outline the next day.

Beauty & the Bigfoot I couldn’t get the idea of a Bigfoot hunter’s daughter falling in love with Bigfoot out of my head. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but reviewers loved the book!

A Perfect Match – The idea for this new release (coming March 27) came to me in a dream. I’ll be blogging more about that later this month. It’s a crazy story!

Next week, I’ll talk about how you can conjure up ideas by playing the “what if” game. It’s a great way to get your mind working!

Until next time,


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