Thursday, April 25, 2013

Where Do Writers Get Their Ideas?

By Jackie King

The most common question asked by readers is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

There are as many answers to this question as there are writers. One of the most honest answers was given by T.D. Hart on her blog “I don’t know,” she posted.

T.D. Hart is a soon-to-be published writer of mystery and thrillers, and her enthusiasm and honesty charms this sometimes jaded writer. I highly recommend a trip to her blogsite. Her real name is Jennifer Adolph, but she uses a pseudonym for fear readers might be turned off by the name she married into. Most people misspell the name by using an ‘f’ as the ending letter, she said.

[It’s a very good that this charming man’s last name didn’t put Jennifer off dating him, falling in love with him, or marrying him. Both veterinarians and as a married couple have produced three of the most delightful children I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.]

But back to my question “Where do you get…”

The truth, in my opinion, is that everyone has a bottomless pit of such ideas. Most people just aren’t writers and don’t recognize what to do with these passing thoughts. I came to that conclusion when I heard the famous author, Jodi Thomas, speak at a writer’s conference. When discussing this reader-question, she confided to the group, “I always want to ask these folks, ‘Where did your ideas go’?” But being very polite, she doesn’t, of course.

The truth is that only writers need such ideas.

My ideas for the mystery novellas I wrote for the “Foxy Hens” series,” came from memories of my grandparents, who as very young pioneers, homesteaded in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

The Statehood Foxy Hens and Murder Most Fowl

Grandma Hodges, whose given name was Lillie Bell, told me stories of how she and Grandpa lived in a dugout and gathered cow-chips for fuel. (Cow-chips are dried cow dung. And no, they didn’t smell bad when burned. Perhaps the reason for no bad smell is that cows eat grass. And I know the information is true because Grandma said so.

To the writers who might be reading this post, my advice is to pay attention to whatever is going on around you. Listen to what folks have to say, especially those raised in a different generation. Oh! How I wish I’d paid more attention and asked more questions when I could. I think of so many now, when it’s too late.

Everything that happens to a person becomes grist for her or his writing mill.


June Shaw said...

Jackie, I agree. We writers sure do snatch up our ideas from everywhere. Fun!

Jean Henry Mead said...

Good advice, jackie. It's a good idea to carry notepad and pen around with you before the thought is lost.