It’s All Material…
What’s the number one question a writer is asked? Can I have a free book. That’s usually followed by how much do you make? Once we get past those eventually we’re going to hear, where do you get your ideas? My answer has always been the same: It’s all material. Story ideas are floating around everywhere. You just have to look at the situation and grab it. Most times it takes some twisting, but that’s what we do – take normal moments and make them more interesting. That said, I’m going to share the inspirations for my stories. Perhaps this will show you how easy it is to come up with stuff.
Gifted Trust: I’ve already covered this in my post Anatomy of a Novel: 1 – short version… it was inspired by the kidnapping and murder of Adam Walsh, son of John Walsh (America’s Most Wanted).
Weeping Mary: Inspired by an event and a person. Years before I got into this writing gig I was driving from Charleston, SC to Jacksonville, FL and I passed a bus with the words Church of the Weeping Mary written on the side of it. I thought it would make a great title for a story. Years later, while living near Houston I met a young lady who happened to be the girlfriend of my stepson. She told us about events she went through in the foster care system. She was the inspiration for the main character.
Hello Neighbor: Again two events helped me come up with this one. First – one Sunday morning a neighbor and his wife knocked on our door and told us that they thought they ran over our cat. We quickly learned they ran over someone else’s cat (ours was in our backyard at the time). They didn’t believe us and got mad, because they thought we weren’t going to take care of our pet. Second – the setting was inspired by the area near Atlanta where my publisher at the time lived.
House Guest: While living near Houston we rented a room to a guy who told me that he previously lived in his girlfriend’s bedroom in her parents’ home, without their knowledge. When she went off to college he had to find a new place to live.
Pit Stop at Hoo Hoo Hollow: The idea of a couple came from my publisher, but the characters are inspired by two people I knew once who conned me out of some money.
Prader-Willie: Again I was inspired by two ideas. The first, while married to my second wife she worked with mentally challenged adults. One of them suffered from prader-willie. The second event deals with childhood torture of a turtle I witnessed when I was a kid.
Little Miss: This one has a little Honey Boo Boo and JonBenét Ramsey in it. Also while still married to the same second wife we knew a woman who forced her daughter to take part in pageants.
Runs Like Rabbit: While with my third wife we vacationed at Angel Fire, New Mexico and visited the Native American village in nearby Taos. I was inspired by that.
Monkey Love: This started as a joke. After writing Gifted Trust people would ask me what I was working on next and if I had a couple beers in me I’d tell them I was working on a story where a woman’s husband dies and returns as a gorilla. I never planned on writing it, until my publisher told me he wanted it.
Marquee: This one is a bit different, because when it was first written I was inspired by my job at a Hampton Inn in Humble, Texas. The ending didn’t work so I put it away for about four years – until after the death of my 3rd wife. I changed the ending of the story and the last section was inspired by that relationship.
That’s it – nothing really too off the wall here, but that’s the point. Any event, if we put a little thought to it, can feed a story idea. All you have to do is look at a situation and add a what if to the moment. Do that and you’ll come up with some interesting ideas.