Monday, February 7, 2011

PLUCKING STORIES FROM THE ETHER





So, where do your ideas come from?

Writers get asked that question all the time. I’m not sure why, really. Maybe it stems from a fascination with the creative process. For instance, I’m curious about how the idea for Velcro came about. A Swiss man got tired of removing burrs from his clothing and actually looked at one under the microscope. From there, he began to see the possibilities. That’s how writing is, at least for me.

My story ideas come from all over the place. Usually I’ll come across something that will suggest a premise. For On Her Trail, my first Carina release, the idea came when I saw a bench perched on top of a cliff overlooking the Yukon River at a distance. I wondered who would use that bench and why the bench was so far from the edge and the best view. Thus Fay, the haunted mother of my heroine Laura, was born.

My next Carina release, The Shoeless Kid (May 2011), started as idle speculation. Where do all those singleton shoes come from? You know the ones I mean. You’re driving down the highway and suddenly there’s a boot or a shoe in the middle of the road. In the middle of nowhere. How can you not speculate about what happened? In Shoeless Kid, a homeless man finds a kid’s shoe on the highway and it’s up to Chief of Police Kate Williams to figure out if the kid really was kidnapped, or if it’s a figment of the old man’s troubled imagination.

I once wrote a whole novel based on a trick of moonlight that had me thinking there was a man sitting in on my deck with a sword resting across his knees. I kid you not.

I love hearing writers’ “origin” stories. A lot of writers’ stories come from a character that just won’t leave them alone until they write his or her story but that’s not my way. How about you?

15 comments:

Wynter Daniels said...

I've always wondered about those shoes, too. I'm curious to read what you've come up with in The Shoeless Kid. I got the idea for Customer Service, a short erotica story, from my former adventures as a mystery shopper, although I never had the experience my heroine did!

MaureenAMiller said...

Back in the era when music videos were so popular (and I was much younger), I once got so mad at what I felt was an inappropriate video to go along with a song...so I wrote a book, which I felt better demonstrated the lyrics.

Toni Anderson said...

There's a bench on top of a rocky crag in a cove on Vancouver Island. I always wondered who sat there and watched the waves and the eagles. Lovely idea for a story.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Wynter, I am going to have to check out Customer Service just to see how you went from an innocuous mystery shopper to an erotica story...

Marcelle Dubé said...

Maureen, I love listening to music but it's never inspired me to write a story. Go you!

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Toni. I'm visually oriented, I think. Often something I see will inspire a story premise, especially if the "something" is dramatic. Cliffs and sea -- can't get much more dramatic than that.

Rita said...

I decided I was going to write a book. I took a Beginning Romance Writing course online and the instructor said I had to come up with a story. Really? Duh!!
I live on a barrier island in Florida and as I'm scratching my head about a plot, a Coast Guard helicopter flew by over the water and the Kevin Kostner movie Guardian, about the Coast Guard was on TV. An ah-ha moment. An kick-ass female helicopter pilot story was born.
Shrug. What can I say?

Julie Moffett said...

As a former journalist, I'm always finding odd tidbits in the news that spark my imagination. Most of the time, fact really is stranger than fiction! :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

See, Rita? You plucked the idea from the ether!

Marcelle Dubé said...

I know what you mean, Julie. Too often I have to tone down an idea that is based on something that really happened because it wouldn't be seen as plausible in fiction. Go figure.

Elise Warner said...

I always wonder about sneakers that hang over telephone lines. I guess it's wondering about people I see or hear or eavesdrop on that gets my juices going. The Shoeless Kid sounds like one terrific read.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Elise!

Clare London said...

Excellent post. That's what inspiration is all about to me - that nosiness :). Then it's up to authors to take their curiosity and weave a tale from it!

Shirley Wells said...

Great post! I'm forever wondering about those shoes too. Everyone sees them but only a writer dreams up a story for the person/body wearing a lone shoe.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Clare and Shirley. There is an occupational hazard to all that nosiness. My children are constantly mortified by the number and type of questions I ask people...