Before I began to write, the complex plots in the books I read would amaze me. I just could not figure out how the authors of these books came up with such fantastic ideas. Since beginning to write, I have discovered ways to come up with some terrific ideas.
Take a look at your own life. Life has a tendency to throw you into all kinds of situations, and each situation can be made into a story. Softly and Tenderly came from the death of my mother when I was nine-years-old. It was a traumatic time of life for me, and it took me a very long time to recover from her death. I could have turned it into a mystery or a story that made people cry. I could have written events just as they happened, but I really would not have been satisfied doing that. I chose to make it creepy.
A few years ago, something happened to me that I’ll never forget. It is something that I don’t want to live through again. While I was out jogging, a spider must have fallen on my shoulder or in my hair. That’s bad enough in itself, but when I discovered this spider on me, it was in my ear. I didn’t realize at the time it was a spider. All I felt were its legs as it crawled deep inside my ear. Many excruciating hours later, I finally managed to coax it out by about drowning it with hydrogen peroxide. It was one clean spider when it hit the floor. I couldn’t let that horrifying event be for nothing. I’m writing a book, Whisper, very lightly based on what happened. Again, it will be a tale of horror.
If you can’t decide on an event in your life to write about, take a look at things that have happened in the lives of people you know. Read newspapers and magazines to see what interesting things have happened in the lives of people you don’t know. Check out current events and what is happening in the world today.
When you go shopping or go to town to pay bills, notice what is going on around you and listen in on other people’s conversations. Just try not to be too obvious about what you are doing. Is there someone you see doing something unusual? Maybe someone is dressed in an unusual way. Did you see someone walk away from their cart only to have someone else come along and pick up an item out of their cart? Was that arranged beforehand? Maybe it was a trade of some kind.
Perhaps your neighbor has a strange habit. Does she walk outside every morning at exactly the same time and look down the road? Is she watching for someone? Why? And who is she watching for? I’m sure you can come up with all kinds of interesting scenarios to explain that.
Listen to your muse. Pick up a sheet of paper and write down a word that interests you, a word that has a lot of meaning for you. Now start jotting down other words that your main word brings to mind. Before long, a story should start to form in your mind. Keep at it long enough, and you should have enough to start writing.
One other way you can come up with ideas is to look at story prompts. There are hundreds of these floating around on the Internet. A lot articles on my BellaOnline Fiction Writing site have story prompts included in them.
Story prompts happen all around us each and every day. All you have to do is notice them and build a story around them.
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Something to whet your appetite: a short excerpt from Softly and Tenderly.
“Lori, it’s your turn to say bye now. You need to tell her that you love her and how much you will miss her.” Daddy put me down next to her coffin and placed his hands on my shoulders. He pushed me so close to her death box that I felt the white satin that overlapped to the outside. It rubbed against my hands. At least it was soft for Mommy. She would be comfortable in there.
I decided to speak out loud this time. Maybe no one else would bring me back up here again if I spoke my goodbyes out loud. “Mommy,” I began, but then I started crying so hard I couldn’t speak. Daddy rubbed my shoulders until I quieted down and could begin again. “Mommy, I love you. I don’t want you to leave me. Please come back. No one, not even this Jesus, is worth leaving me over.” I opened my eyes and looked at her. She hadn’t moved since Mrs. Minuet had dragged me up here. But then her eyes opened, and she stared at me. She was staring at me! I sucked my breath in and felt my legs grow weak as my head began to spin. With one hand I grabbed on to the edge of the coffin, while with the other hand I grabbed hold of Daddy’s arm.
“Daddy! Daddy! Mommy’s not dead! She looked at me!” I screamed as I jumped up and down. “She was still alive when they took her out of the house. I saw her trying to get out from under the sheet.” I pulled on his arm and shook it. “Please, Daddy. You’ve got to save her.”
Daddy was beginning to sound a bit mad. He picked me up and held me over top of Mommy. “Maybe if you give her a goodbye kiss you’ll understand she’s dead, and believe me when I tell you she isn’t coming back.” I was so close to Mommy’s cheek that I could see the makeup was beginning to cake in her pores. There was no warmth rising up from her body, only icy coldness.
|Author Lisa Binion|
Lisa Binion is a writer, editor, and wife. She makes her home in the beautiful state of Kentucky. Her two children are now grown, but she has been blessed with two beautiful grandchildren, Tyler and Zoey. Her family also includes four dogs, four cats, and two goats.
As the Fiction Writing Editor for BellaOnline, she writes articles, reviews fiction books, and interviews fiction authors. She is also an editor for Silver Tongue Press and Edit 1st. In her spare time, she attempts to clean house and relax.