I’ve read a lot of interviews with authors and almost all of them detest this question. The answer usually is some version of, “Well, I thought of it, so I guess it came from my brain.” Sometimes it is that simple, but we don’t all live in a vacuum. We have lives outside of writing, or hopefully we do, and it is these lives that cause us to come into contact with the spark of something that eventually tumbles into a full-fledged novel.
You could also resort to writing prompts, or The Story Starter. This is a website that generates a random opening line for you. The one I got was “The gentle ballet dancer climbed the wall in the diner to prevent the fight.” Interesting, sounds like a confused Spiderman.
The idea for my novel Fae Hunter started as a discussion with my Orkin man. Seriously. He was talking about hunting in the woods. He said one line which sparked the entire story which then evolved into something else entirely, “It was like God was putting things in my path.”
This is the freewrite I did after our conversation:
I should have listened. It was like God was putting things in my path, but I ignored all the signs. The chipmunk in the road was harmless enough. I revved the engine on my motorcycle and it quickly skittered away. Then there was the mother elk standing in the road, her baby hiding behind her rear legs. Even as I got closer she refused to move. The piles of bones in the makeshift cemetery was what finally made me stop. Wasn’t any amount of engine noise going to frighten away the dead.
I kept the intrigue of clues being put in my main character’s path until she could no longer ignore them. I also kept the idea of a hunter on a motorcycle.
Ever have a strange experience prompt a story? Where do you get your ideas? *wink*