Where do your story ideas come from?

Creativity: the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work

Ideas are the stock in trade of creative people. Too many stories is the complaint most writers have. Too many ideas and not enough time to write them all. 

How true is this? Certainly, there are ideas – but not all are good enough, meaty enough, interesting enough to become “the one.” The genesis of an entire project. 

Fortunately, ideas don’t spring from ‘nowhere’. Even the most original idea is an amalgamation of fragments from the author’s past, past conversations remembered, an event recalled, worries about the future recorded. The originality is in the re-presenting. 

Award winning author Meg Gardiner plucks crime stories from the news and shares them on her Twitter feed. Some are funny, many are tragic, and all are fodder for crime novelists to twist and turn into their own dark plots. (Her posts are a constant reminder that truth is often stranger than fiction.)

When the late Toni Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize, the Swedish Academy cited her “novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import,” through which she “gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” Her writing was masterful and lyrical in a way apart from others creating in English. 

Her perhaps best known book, BELOVED, took root after Morrison read the account of real fugitive Margaret Garner who killed her child rather than send her back to slavery. I like to imagine Morrison reading this account, and recoiling in horror and sadness, then through necessity going about her busy day as an editor and single mother of two boys. Did she know this story would become BELOVED? Likely not. Likely it was added to her mental store house as a fragment of the history of the human condition.

Aspiring writers are told to read. We should add listen and watch and record. For creativity needs fuel and life is the fuel for our stories. It’s everywhere, you simply have to pay attention.

Where do your story ideas come from?


  1. My stories come from everywhere and anywhere, Tracee. I was riding on the highway last week watching a road crew from the county prison work and had an idea for a story pop into my head. Now I can’t wait to write it! The dilemma is whether to start now because I am excited or to wait until I finish my WIP and edit the book before that.

    1. Yes!!! That is a dilemma….. you don’t want to lose the ‘spark’ but on the other hand there is other work waiting. Isn’t that why we keep notebooks on hand, to continue to capture the ‘sparks’ while plugging away at the ‘real project’!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *