Whenever people discover that I write novels, they usually ask a lot of questions. I don't mind the questions and enjoy answering, especially if it provides me an opportunity to make a sale! It's been my experience that most people, particularly avid readers, are fascinated with the idea of writing their own novel.
Why do I believe that? It has to do with the nature of their questions. Sure, I get the obvious questions like: What's your novel about? Is it a part of a series? Where can I buy your book? But the questions where people express the greatest passion have to do with the process: How long does it take to write a novel? Where do you find the time? How did you get started? Can you really make money writing? How did you find a publisher?
|"Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your
race was born, I have awaited a question."|
"Tos city-on-the-edge" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.
During the course of these conversations, I've had people confess that for years they've held within a deep desire to express themselves in writing. For some, it's the first time they've ever openly admitted it.
God bless these folks, because I was like them many years ago until determination drove me to get started. I hope they take the plunge and wish them much success.
What mystifies me, though, are those who claim that they would like to write a novel but don't know what to write about. It's the most common question that people ask of me:
Where do you get your ideas?
I don't consider myself to be very observant, just ask my wife! Despite the fact that I would make a terrible detective, every day I stumble upon all kinds of story ideas. For example, during my drive to work one day I saw a good sized fish lying in the middle of a mountain road, far from any stream. How did it get there? Did someone leave it as a sign? Did a giant bird flying overhead drop it from its talons? I don't know for sure if that fish was dead or alive. Maybe it was one of those walking snakehead species that stopped in the middle of the road to sun itself. With just a little imagination that scene could inspire a nifty story.
Even if you live a sheltered life and never set foot outside your house you can get ideas from daily headlines. For example, check out this link keeping with the "fish" theme that might sow the seeds of a horror or sci-fi novel.
Want to write a mystery? Try a variation of this true news article, concerning a doctor who sold babies after telling their mothers that their newborns had died. Terrible. You can't make up this stuff.
Read this sobering report about the re-opening of Cheyenne Mountain as a precautionary measure to guard against the threat of an electro magnetic pulse. My post-apocalyptic novel, Earthburst, was inspired by this theme.
Want to write the next great military thriller? Consider this report about the Chinese drone army. Is comedy your thing? Read any article published by The Onion for inspiration.
You don't have to be a creative genius to come up with a story idea. Stories exist all around you begging to be told. Choose one and give it try. You might surprise yourself.