Where do you get your story ideas?

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Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby danielle100 » 09 Jun 2011, 11:40

My husband basically told me he's having an affair and even showed me a picture, taken professionally, of himself and the other woman. I pretty much told him I was leaving and he could keep the dog that we don't have. Poor dog, I felt so sorry for it. What's it going to do when he works late and it's stuck in the house? It's so cute too, I think. A little blurry, but cute.

"I'm leaving." I felt his hand on my shoulder.
I rolled over. "OK. I just had the worst dream."

Did I get you? Sorry, but I was trying to capture how it felt for me. So real! Luckily, my hubby should win Husband/Father of the Year and I am really not sure why I had that crazy dream. After telling him all about it and him leaving (for work!), I laid there trying to decide what to blog about today. I thought, "What a great scene that dream would be for a book!" And that thought was followed by, "I need to blog. Now."

The only author I know of who based a book on her dream is Stephenie Meyer. (Sorry, I haven't done my research.) Most dreams I have sound good when I am three-fourths asleep, but when I come to my senses, the idea usually sucks. J.K. Rowling's idea for Harry Potter came to her on a train and she found she couldn't stop writing, even getting fired from one job.

I got the idea for BACK IN FOCUS from a real life experience. I used to own an old film camera and gave it up when I hopped on the Oklahoma bound Greyhound bus, carrying only the necessities. Back in Washington, I had taken several pictures on a roll of film that I left in the camera, which I gave to Value Village (basically like Goodwill, minus the philanthropic aspect). For some reason, I often thought about that camera and conjured images of someone finding it and discovering my pure photographic genius.

One summer day, while I laid on the couch like a beached whale--pregnant, hot, tired, and trying to get comfortable so I could fall asleep--that image of the camera came back again. That's when I got the bright idea to use that as a premise for a story.

Thus, BIF was born.

I leaped to my feet, as much as a nine month pregnant woman can leap, and began writing note after note. I tried writing the book a few times, but failed, and eventually found the right way to start it. I even had a soundtrack for the book and would blare certain songs on the way to work. Each character has its own theme song and I think that helped in character development. If I was working on developing one character, I'd listen to its theme song.

Having a new story idea is an exhilarating experience. How did you come up with your story ideas?
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby polymath » 09 Jun 2011, 12:18

My story inspirations come from things I'm trying to make sense of, uncover their underlying meanings to me.
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby dios4vida » 09 Jun 2011, 12:44

I have based books on dreams - two, in fact. My first book was based on a dream, and my current WIP as well. The one I wrote in between was a kind of spin-off idea that I'd had but I really don't remember where it came from. Two of my other story ideas (not quite WIPS since they're only in super-basic, not-quite-finished outline mode) are dreams, too.
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Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby Chantelle.S. » 09 Jun 2011, 14:12

I think a lot of writers get their story ideas from dreams (or nightmares).
I tend to have a really good memory concerning my dreams, and I might not always remember everything as soon as I'm awake, but details of it would come back to me in dribs and drabs during the week. I've had one really strange sci-fi ish dream inspire a novel all on its own. The problem is that I don't write sci-fi, but it still inspired a novel in a different genre.
I take inspiration from my dreams because they're often very vivid. Unfortunately so are the nightmares, which is why my forté lies in horror rather than romance or sci-fi or any other genre. I've also written one of my more unpleasant dreams down on paper, which became the second chapter of my fanfic Image Becomes Reality (http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5240350/2/I ... es_Reality). At the time, I thought it was a really weird but good dream that I can't just lay to waste, because it wouldn't fit anywhere in any of my novels, so I morphed it into a fanfic for one of my favourite fandoms.

But I get my story ideas from everywhere and everything. I had one really complex plot idea of how to bring a very dead character back to life and have it all make sense and seem fathomable come to me while I was doing the ironing one day. Like Harry Potter, the plot just kind of 'walked in' to my head and it's been festering there since.

Sometimes it's people who inspire me - I'll see someone doing something, or overhear a conversation (which I do a lot when I pretend to be writing, a.k.a. procrastinate), or just someone with features that are a bit different. I've even had a story idea of a girl stalking a boy because she believed she'd seen him in her dreams, pop into my head while I was waiting for the bus one day.
What inspired that idea, though, was my insane impulsiveness to want to hop on a bus (that I had no idea where it was going) and try to steal a snapshot with my cell phone of a guy that I swear looked so much like a game character I adore that it was almost creepy. But then my conscience berated me that I'm not a crazy teenager anymore, and who cares if nobody believes me when I tell them I saw a guy that might as well have BEEN this fictional character, plus I'd be kind of obvious if I sit down right across from this poor guy with my two niggly little kids and take a photo of him.

Sometimes, my own work inspires another story idea. Other times it's little things that happen to me, or someone else, that inspires an idea. I guess I scratch my ideas out wherever I can find a hole. Kind of like journalists that have to go 'searching' for 'that' story.
"Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s." -Stephen King

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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby medussa74 » 09 Jun 2011, 14:15

My dreams don't often become the basis for my story, but I often intertwine the imagery of a particular dream that fits a scene all the time.

Otherwise, most of my ideas come from asking "what if." My current WIP was inspired by Galadrial , in the scene where Frodo offers the ring.
"So instead of a dark lord you would have a queen, not dark but beautiful, as terrible as the dawn, as treacherous as the sea. All shall love me and despair."

I watched that scene (yes, the inspiration hit me while I was watching the movie, and not one of the million times I read the book) and I thought...huh...what if she had become a dark queen? The germ of my idea started there.
Last edited by medussa74 on 09 Jun 2011, 18:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby sierramcconnell » 09 Jun 2011, 14:41

I'm a channeler. The characters come to me, and I build things around them. I'm also inspired by everything around me, and I do mean everything. From footprints to fuzzy inkpens, I can write a story.

My dolls help a lot, they're the majority of my current stories, but I can pretty much make a story from anything. I tested that theory the other day on a walk and it's insane.

But things come to me in whispers when writing. I hear words, phrases, whole paragraphs. It's why I say I channel things, or that I'm not writing the book, they are. Because it's too eerie when I write an entire page about something I don't know, then look it up and it's accurate.

Of course, my family and I have always been on that side of the veil so...it's entirely possible I'm writing for ghosts. :shock:
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby Leonidas » 09 Jun 2011, 19:46

Initially, the idea behind my main WiP came from a dream I had about two years ago. The WiP now looks like the dream only in its main theme and the basic aspects of the main character. When I first started writing it, I wrote it exactly as I dreamt it -- but the dream didn't fill up the 50,000 words I needed for NaNoWriMo, and wasn't at all coherent. That's when I started to deviate from the dream, and I'm really glad I did. While the dream gave me that first impetus to start writing, I would have stopped writing it almost as soon as I started if I hadn't veered from the path the dream took.

My second WiP was inspired by a radio that I saw on Pawn Stars.

Just today I was sitting in the car, playing with a ring of keys, and I thought to myself, randomly, "What if I wrote a fantasy story about some people who need to find a key? What if the key was actually a person? What if that person didn't want to be the key, or was too heavily influenced by -insert negative presence here- to be the key to a better future for -whatever the universe is-?"

So, yeah. I'm inspired by pretty much anything and everything. I have specific characters who were inspired by everything from songs to comic books, and short stories that were inspired by real life conversations, prompts given to me by friends, or just random snippets of thought. My imagination tends to run wild with me a lot -- I see random things pretty easily. Like just a few minutes ago, I was feeding my guinea pigs and I looked out a window to see a light on a bike rack cast by a streetlamp, and I thought that the bike rack was a ghost. I could write a story about how the shadows of the trees in the wind and dark light from the streetlamps fell on what I thought was a "ghost" staring at me from across the street.

I've also mistaken a sock held by my Mom for a Jack Russel Terrier.

My mind is an interesting place to be, especially when I'm tired.
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby danielle100 » 09 Jun 2011, 20:22

Wow! You guys have some unbelievable imaginations. Interesting to see that some of you do devise your stories from dreams. Sometimes I go the other way around and dream about the story I am writing. Sierra & Leonidas- Would love to walk around in BOTH your heads (and steal your stories, jk). Sierra- Your dolls are super creative. I can see how they'd inspire stories.
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby sierramcconnell » 09 Jun 2011, 20:30

danielle100 wrote:Wow! You guys have some unbelievable imaginations. Interesting to see that some of you do devise your stories from dreams. Sometimes I go the other way around and dream about the story I am writing. Sierra & Leonidas- Would love to walk around in BOTH your heads (and steal your stories, jk). Sierra- Your dolls are super creative. I can see how they'd inspire stories.


I dunno if you want to go up there. I think there's some cobwebs in the attic and a few tea sets I need to dust. There's definitely some china dolls and a few scary things in the closet that will eat you. They don't like people encroaching on their territory.

Also, it's almost always fall there, and it seems a chilly whistle is present no matter what you do to dispel it.

Booooo~

[yawn] I is sleepy now.

And apart from being inspiring, they're also very demanding. They always want new clothes or something expensive. I feel so used!
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby polymath » 10 Jun 2011, 04:32

There's many parallels between dreams and writing and reading, and make believe. "The writer must enable us to see and feel vividly what his characters see and feel; that is, enable us to experience as directly and intensely as possible, though vicariously, what his characters experience." Gardner, John, The Art of Fiction, 1984, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, pg 44.

"Vividly . . . directly and intensely . . . though vicariously," sounds to me identical to dreaming. Call reading or writing dreaming while awake, a spell writers cast and readers participate in, a participation mystique. Magical conversation.

Please, Mr. Sandman, send me a dream. Oh no, not another nightmarish inuperable struggle. Bring it on; working out a nightmare is as emotionally rewarding as working out a pleasant dream.
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby Moni12 » 10 Jun 2011, 05:47

Cliches, norms, random thoughts and the questioning of fairy tales and poetry I like and don't like.

By the way, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was written in part based on a dream that Stevenson had. It was of course, influenced by many, many other things.
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby medussa74 » 10 Jun 2011, 06:44

polymath wrote:Please, Mr. Sandman, send me a dream. Oh no, not another nightmarish inuperable struggle. Bring it on; working out a nightmare is as emotionally rewarding as working out a pleasant dream.


More so! In fact, I don't know if I should even call them nightmares anymore. My husband always laughs when I tell him about my most recent "epic" dream
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby maybegenius » 10 Jun 2011, 11:24

I always like Neil Gaiman's response to this question, which is: "I make them up. Out of my head." :lol:

More in depth, my ideas come to me from everywhere. Asking questions ("What if?"). Watching a show on the Science Channel. Hearing a story second-hand. Images from my dreams. Bizarre news stories. My own past. A song.

I can't remember who said this, but I always liked it -- writers are people who view the world like writers. They find stories everywhere.
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby rosepetal720 » 10 Jun 2011, 11:33

Since I write historical fiction, coming up with ideas is easy; I just read a history book and say, "I want that one." It's like ordering a pastry at Starbucks.

Traveling helps a lot, because I hear stories and see how other people live and decide what I want to capture.

I did come up with a non-hist-fic once, though. I was thinking about how vampire novels are formulaic and wondering if I could figure out a formula for the perfect love story by analyzing the most famous love stories of all time and finding connecting threads. I never accomplished this, though, because all of a sudden a paranormal-romance story popped into my head. It's basically a mix of the dozens of books I was thinking of at once.
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Re: Where do you get your story ideas?

Postby Guardian » 10 Jun 2011, 11:33

In many cases strange thoughts used to give me the ideas, such as contradictions and scenarios without answers (And during the story I always try to figure out the answer, my own answer for those questions. That's how my philosophical stories used to born.). But dreams and music used to give me most of the ideas. Music itself is just like an unwritten story and when I hear a music, I immediately capable to visalize scenes for it, create a story and describe it.

My Crystal Shade is the only exception as it came out of nowhere. Many have asked what gave me the inspiration for that one and I used to answer; My own Guardian Angel told me her own story. :) Of course in the meantime this story was also expanded and written following dreams and musics, but this is the work where everything always falls to the right place (Even if I realize it later.); a story which was born only from an angelic whisper.
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