At the weekend I was asked the question most dreaded by all writers and authors… Where do you get your ideas from?
My husband and I were regulars at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival. Whenever it came to the question and answer segment at the end of the talk someone in the audience would always stand up and ask “Where do you get your ideas from?” It would cause all the writers on the discussion panel to roll their eyes towards the heavens. This question of ideas, along with the other most asked questions, When did you start writing? and Did you always want to be a writer? never got the discussion panel of writers excited.
As I sit here editing my latest horror novella ‘Never Reaching The End’ I realise the answer I should have given was, I don’t have a single idea when I start writing, but a series of ideas. What all writers start with is deciding upon a theme to their idea. i.e. is my tale one of Horror, Romance, Historical, Crime, etc.
You begin with a question: what is the theme of my writing project? Who is my main character? and then you begin to ask yourself a series of what if questions that begin to spark another idea until you have built the first draft of your tale.
When I started writing ‘Never Reaching The End’ it was to be a short story for Black Hare Press Horror House Theme anthology. I decided to take the classic tale of a haunted house and turn it on its head by misleading the reader in one direction. As I’m editing the novella new ideas are coming to me all the time. As you add more information about why the character is behaving in a certain way, creating your settings, and dealing with the emotional relationships between the characters, and how the setting is feeding into the characters growing problems, new ideas develop along the way. After reading through the manuscript, I sometimes find that certain areas may need more clarity. By building more tension into a scene by adding more horror, ( or romance, and facts according to whichever theme you’re writing) to each scene, this can also lead to other ideas which may strengthen the plot.
So in answer to the question… Where do you get your ideas from? My answer should have been quite simply. The ideas find me🤷♀️ rather than me trying to explain where the idea for each book I’ve written so far came from, and seeing a vacant look cross the questioner’s face as they were expecting a simple, straightforward answer.
Here’s a video of the award winning writer, Neil Gaiman explaining about ideas, and how all writers come up with a novel answer to that most dreaded question of Where Ideas come from?