One thing people always ask me is where do I get the ideas for my novels. I get a real kick out this question. Look around the world, I say. Everywhere you look there’s a story of one kind or another waiting to be told. You can throw a rock in any direction and see something in the air developing.
As a writer, my mind looks at the world in a slightly different way. I see plots and intrigue where others don’t. I often invent it even when there’s nothing remotely interesting happening. One can always find me listening to conversations in stores or in a bar or restaurant. In fact, people are often so open about their private affairs in public that it’s hard NOT to hear what they’re going on about.
I remember one day siting next to a woman as she spoke loudly on her phone. The discussion was heated and she talked in great detail about her finances. Her husband had just died and supposedly there was an issue with his will. She didn’t seem to care at all that I and a few others were sitting next to her and could hear her every word.
Stories are everywhere. You just have to open your eyes and ears to appreciate them.
The other day I saw a man walking in the Whole Foods parking lot. He was about fifty yards ahead of me and he dropped a slip of paper. My mind conjured up all kinds of scenarios. What if he was a spy and dropped an important note listing the names of valuable contacts! Or maybe he was a professional hitman with a list of double-crossing mobsters to knock off. How about a ransom note he would use to rob a bank. I ran over and scooped up the note only to see that it was his grocery list. Then I found him in the store and handed it to him. At least I got three good story ideas from this one encounter.
Stories are everywhere.
When driving through town with my kids, we would often play a game whereby we would make up names for people walking down the street, and then give them a detailed backstory, To most every activity I see during the course of a day, I create a beginning, middle and end. Narrative abounds.
Stories are everywhere. So if you’re stuck for an idea, look around you. In fact, most writers I know have the opposite problem: there are too many stories to tell and not enough time to tell them all.