How do you get story ideas?

Many of my book ideas are inspired by “what if” questions that pop into my head.

What if no one attended your funeral?

What if rabies were airborne?

What if cats walked upright and Scott Stapp were president? *shudder*

Still, others are inspired by a dream I have, a song I hear or a story I write for work.

My current project actually came to me while I was researching an article and I came across an architect’s gorgeous rendering of a futuristic world. It brought so many “what ifs” to mind that I just couldn’t shake it. The idea percolated for a few days until one morning it came to fruition while I was waiting for the parking garage elevator. Then it hit me. This is it!

I abandoned my current project and started writing the book immediately. It’s the very book I pitched at DFWcon.

But perhaps one of the most interesting ways a book came into being was when the talented Birdy Jones and I had a little butterbeer at a party and launched into a hilarious conversation (OK, maybe it was only funny to us) about the wizarding world. A couple days later she messaged me and said, “We should really turn this into a book!”

And I thought, “Great idea! Why didn’t I think of that?” I never considered co-authoring a book before, but Birdy and I have so much fun with this project, that we’re already plotting our next book!

So, I’m curious. What’s the strangest or most interesting way you’ve stumbled into a story idea?

Photo: herrea/flickr

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8 thoughts on “How do you get story ideas?

  1. All of my best ideas come to me in the shower. There’s just something about being naked and wet. Wait? What? ..Hehe

  2. My most recent project came to me while I was at the gym. It just HIT me and I got off the treadmill, went home and started writing. But I wish I got ideas while drinking butter beer!

  3. I get great plot ideas in the shower, too!

    And Sara, you should definitely indulge in a little butterbeer. It’s delicious! ;)

  4. My current WIP (the one I pitched) came to me last year, when IN looked like the ice world of Hoth, and my car battery completely died. Angry with my useless hunk of metal called my car, and needing to be driven to work by my hubs (wonkwonk) and seeing a dead and desolate landscape, my first 3 chapters basically came to me fully formed. So, I guess EXTREME emotion gave me the book idea that I saw to The End. ^_^

    Some ideas, like that, grip me and won’t let me go, while others I had to recognize were just born from trends. I *think* I’ve been able to recognize which ideas are just ideas and which ideas I can develop into concepts and eventually, stories.

  5. Hello! Such a nice and cheerful post on ideas. I was just hit by this new story for my novel while I was preparing for an exam and day-dreaming of a salon in my old neighbourhood! Until now I’ve never had such a seriously unconnected situation where an idea pops up for a book. And I had to write it down so badly. I used one of my graphs!

  6. Liza, after reading your first few chapters, I can totally see that!

    Literary Shack, ideas do seem to come from the most random places — even while studying and thinking of salons!

  7. My current WIP was inspired by my daughter. If it weren’t for her I probably wouldn’t know what was happening in teen world and each day she talks about school I find new inspiration! And I’m a little but frightened.

  8. The Big Smoke came about because the main lesson my girl character needed to learn was one I was trying to teach myself. As in, I recognized an area that I needed to grow and gave it to my character. The rest of the story grew from there and became completely unrelated to my life. :-)

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