Where do ideas come from?


Raising Goldfish

This is the question authors get more than any other. It’s usually followed by a long-winded speech about how smart the author must be and how the other person could never ever do what they do.

That’s completely false. I’m a firm believer that everyone, each and every single person who can write a complete paragraph, has at least two books within them.

Maybe the books won’t be fiction, which is okay. Maybe someone has two books on them regarding how to properly raise goldfish, but that’s okay too. They’re books, and nobody should feel bad if they only write fiction, or only write nonfiction. Both are valuable.

My ideas usually come from real life. For instance, Cloud Development, among its many interesting plot points, involves a 10-year-old boy. I can remember back to the day my sister came home from the hospital. I was three. So placing myself in the little shoes of a little boy isn’t that big of a stretch.

The whole point of the story, which I won’t spoil here, came from an app I was thinking about installing on my phone. That thought lead to a vague memory of reading a book like Cloud Development sometime in my past. I then spent the next hour or so looking for that book, and I couldn’t find it.

Then I decided┬áto look for any book on the subject and couldn’t find any before the mid-1960’s. So, I decided to write one. Simple as that.

Another book I’m working on involves someone who’s out of his mind and really likes fire. That idea came while I was waiting on my next flight in an airport. I saw a man sitting at the bar who looked and acted like a busy salesman.

Then I noticed his trousers were a bit too long and had become unraveled near the heels. I noticed the ring on his finger, and how he made eyes at the female bartender. He looked young, but had wrinkles of someone who spent time every day in deep worry. He was a white man but his complexion was dark. Not the kind of dark of someone who spends his off-time drinking strong cocktails on a beach somewhere. His was the skin-tone of a man who spent time standing in the sun wearing his horn-rimmed glasses. Overall, the salesman-like appearance was thin and he seemed to be having a difficult time holding his camouflage in place. Something wasn’t right…

So I took my little spiral binder out of my pocket and began to take notes. I speculated on the worst-case scenario of what all these little clues could add-up to… and had another story… a dark story that I hesitate to write. Oh, I’ll get it done, but other things first.

So, if you’d like to write, take anything and use it. That pencil on your desk could inspire you to write about an office-worker who has to run around with a pencil sharpener and a box of Ticoneroga tri-writes slaying vampires. (They count as a wooden stake, don’t they?) How about that jerk at the car wash who thumps his music loud enough to rattle your windows? Revenge is sweet when it happens in fiction. Inspired by the idea of raising goldfish? Just write.

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