Story Ideas

I had a fun question during a presentation the other day.

“Where do you get your story ideas?”

My spontaneous answer–that my mind was so filled it never rested and ideas were raging all the time, except when I was asleep– didn’t begin to cover it. My daughter pointed out after the event that I actually did dream ideas as well.

True.

When I am in a good writer space my ideas come from every single thing I see, hear, taste, touch, smell.

One of my favorite short stories, Better (in Day-of-the-Not-So-Dead) came from a stop in a coffee shop where the prices were written on a white board. There was no indication what the prices meant, no size, no number of shots, just the prices. And that was all it took for the next three hours to be filled with what that might mean.

Another story idea came after my friend and I made a bad choice. We had just arrived at Epcot for the day. We figured out the fast pass, app on the phone, how to use the kiosk and headed toward the first ride. It happened to be one with two lines. We picked the INTENSE ride, after some discussion, of which I was very convincing.  MISTAKE. We exited the ride and I was totally queazy. Beyond queazy. Ready-to-fly-home-to-California-and-forget-the-whole-trip queazy. Except I could never get on an airplane again, because that would be too much like this ride. I moaned and groaned and lay on a bench. My friend just looked at the map to figure out where we were going next. LATER she told me that she had been equally sick to her stomach.

So..the story idea from this event: How is it that two people, similar in many ways, react in very different ways to an event. One is loud, moaning, complaining, while the other silently sucks it up. What happened early in their life, what other events played a role in their reactions? Thus another story is born.

Farting in public, ordering something that isn’t very tasty, waiting for a friend who is always late. All story ideas.

Seeing a truck drive by with “H &    Construction”, the letter behind the “&” peeled away. What happened between these two partners? Another story starts to form.

Waking up to the sound of a barking dog.

Talking about yard sales and how some people are good at spotting a bargain with my mother and suddenly I think about someone hiding a murder weapon on a yard sale table. In my original thought the story was about the people at the yard sale saying “is this yours?” when they have a buyer and it is not marked with a price, but later, during the short story “Have Yourself a Debt Free Christmas”, those details evolved.

So, yep, my answer to the question was spot on. I get my ideas from absolutely everything. While writing this blog, I was looking through old photos and came across this one. Another story is forming, even as I type.