There’s an old joke about two Irishmen engaged in a game of one-upmanship. Finally, one of them says, “Well, don’t ya know that I’m descended from an Irish prince?”
To which the other replies, “So who isn’t?”
Many times when I tell people that I write novels, I get one of two reactions. The person will ask where I get my ideas, or the person will gush, “Oh, I have the BEST idea for a story!”
When this happens, I’m tempted to answer like the second Irishman, “So who doesn’t?” To the first person, I usually say, “Ideas are everywhere.” And no, I’m not kidding. Virtually anything and everything can inspire a story idea. I know, because I’ve had vast experience with strange and wonderful inspirations.
The idea for my 2006 Golden Heart final was inspired by a piece of music. I’d been out running errands and listening to my favorite classical station on the radio. Now, I listen to classical music a lot and have for a long time, so when an evocative piece of music came on that I didn’t recognize, I took notice. Then it ended and the announcer said, “That was incidental music to Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s opera ‘Jewels of the Madonna'.” I remember thinking, “Wow! Nice music and what a great title!” When I got home I went online and googled the composer and the opera. After reading a summary of the libretto, I started thinking, “What if…”
And VOILA! An idea for a GH finalist manuscript was conceived!
Would that it always worked that way.
Believe me, it doesn’t.
In fact, I haven’t been struck by exactly that kind of inspiration again. At least not yet.
The idea for my current WIP was a bit more ‘forced’, if you will. I knew I wanted to write something set in Ireland and I somehow wanted to incorporate something about the ancient Celts. Now Google is great but it only takes me so far, so I trotted down to the local library and checked out as many books on the Celts and Celtic Ireland as I could find on the shelves (one was a book on Celtic Art and Jewelry with wonderful pictures).
After three weeks of immersing myself in the history, stories and pictures, my characters and story line coalesced enough for me to jump in and start writing. I working on Chapter 13 as I type this. I’ll let you know how it all works out.
Meanwhile, what about YOU?
What inspires you (besides half-dressed hunky cabana boys)?
Where do you find your story ideas?
And are you sure you're not related to an Irish prince?