Monday, May 7, 2012

Ideas for stories

“Where do you get your ideas?” is a question often asked of writers. It may not be as easy as some say, but ideas are all around us.

As a reporter, I had my beat, the Board of Education and the County Commissioners. Besides other important news from local towns and large events, etc., I had to generate my own ideas for articles. Sometimes my editor would call and tell me about a press release she received about a small fundraiser and ask me to look into it, see if it was interesting enough for a larger article.

I learned to look for these types of events myself. Of course, I covered fires, large court cases and accidents, but saw that people’s lives revolved around so much more. There were charity events, special church services, art displays, historical programs and new or expanding businesses in the area. Opportunities to learn and then to share those experiences with others was exhilarating.

The same principle applies to fiction. Events you experience, what you read or watch may be developed into stories. Some ideas may be limited and not be large enough for a book, but could become part of one.
Example: A young girl licking her lollypop becomes angry with her little brother and plunks the sticky lollypop in his hair. Perhaps when you see this you think that is something one of your characters would do.

The idea for a short story titled Together, came from a newspaper article I read years ago about a couple killed together after a truck hit them. The accident happened in Garrett County, I think along a mountain near Friendsville. The article mentioned how they often they did things together. The sad event also struck me as being a little romantic and stayed in my memory, although I forgot the names and ages of the couple and other details. Years later, I based my short story, published in Garrett County’s literary magazine Ginseng, on that memory.

I recently watched a few episodes of a television program called “Murder By The Book.” Famous mystery writers speak briefly about murders that captured their attention. During the show the mentioned murder and investigation that followed are reenacted. I don’t doubt that major events followed on the news or even discussed among friends can lead to an idea for a best-selling book.

The ideas are there. You just have to look for them and develop them your way.

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