I’ve read in a couple of places that one of the most annoying questions asked of writers is “Where do you get your ideas?” Frankly, hearing other writers’ answers to that question is fascinating. I mean, who wouldn‘t want to know where Stephen King gets his ideas? (I mean, where does he come up with some of this stuff? Of course, I’m eagerly anticipating the release of his new novel. Every time I read one and scare myself silly, I swear I won’t ever read another one. And yet, every time, I simply HAVE to.) But, having only a vague idea of where my own story ideas come from, I know why this question is so frustrating to writers. Because, really, who wants to hear “I don’t know” in response to this question? Precisely no one. But it’s hard to put such a nebulous concept into words.
For example: At least three of my story ideas (with complete drafts done) have come from dreams I had. One of these is Witches. One of these is Through Shadowed Stone. After I started researching Heart of the Sea, but before I started writing it, I had a dream about the story, where I was actually Nerina running through the forest. As for the others, well, sometimes they just seem to fall out of the sky. And sometimes…they come from a place a little bit more earthly.
With NaNo looming on the horizon, I’m been mulling over ideas for this year’s story. I’ve known what it’s going to be about (basically) since before LAST NaNo, but now some of the details are coming clear. It’s going to be urban fantasy, probably with a lot of comedy and a mystery aspect (how’s that for convoluted?). The MC is an elf, and her best friend/sidekick is a fairy. It’s set in New Orleans, of course. What better place to research? A couple of weeks ago, some friends of mine were in town for their first visit here. Naturally, I had to take them to the French Quarter. As strange as some of the things you can see there are, it’s easy for me to believe something paranormal could be going on at any time. So, I’d like to say a big thank you to the 300-pound man wearing a green halter top and long green skirt, with Mimi-esque makeup (a la The Drew Carey Show), and dancing, literally, to the beat of music only he could hear. You’ve given me a wonderful idea for the fairies in my story and how they derive their power. You also deserve a thank-you for the laugh I got while watching the expressions on my friends’ faces when they saw you. (And one of said friends is the basis for the MC in this story, too. She’s the most accident-prone person EVER.) And also? The Red Dress Run, which I witnessed two weeks before that, will also be making an appearance in this story. Men in dresses are not that unusual in the Quarter. Approximately 400 men in red dresses wearing competitors’ numbers IS a teensy bit strange. (And honestly, the explanation is quite funny and still strange.) You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a sight like that. So, thanks to all those men in red dresses as well.
So, yeah. THAT’S where story ideas come from: out of the clear, blue sky.