Friday, August 17, 2012

Writing: Ideas

The question is always the same, whether from meeting with a book club or an encounter in a social situation. "Where do you get your ideas?"

There are multiple answers, including the magic words taught me by author Alton Gansky: "What if?" But another answer is, "I read. I watch. I imagine."

For example, on a recent trip, Kay and I sat in the airport and watched people go by. Family groups scurried by, obviously in a rush to catch a plane. Men and women talked on cell phones, their faces betraying the earnestness of their conversation. Teen-agers immersed themselves in whatever was coming through their headphones.  And there was a story, either real or imagined, in every sighting.

Suppose the family group was trying to catch the last flight to Minneapolis, where the wife's mother lay dying. Suppose one of those cell phone conversations was between a contract killer and his boss, relaying final details of a mission. Suppose the teen-ager wasn't concentrating on music, but rather perfecting his plans to run away from an abusive father?

This is just one of the ways I get ideas. I get them from the newspaper and TV news. I get them from my interactions with other people. I get them... You get the picture.

So where do I get my ideas? They're all around. Writers in the audience, where do you get your ideas?

(photo courtesy

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