Disclaimer: this blog post contains Rachel’s opinions, which are not affiliated with anyone but herself.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how people get story ideas. I’m particularly impressed by fantasy writers who create entire worlds, also known as world building. I’m in awe of those authors because some days I forget to pack my lunch, let alone have the ability to create an entire new world for my characters. I guess that’s why I don’t write fantasy. Best to leave that to the pros!
If I said I imagine all my story ideas, I’d be lying. The truth is many things can ignite a story idea. A walk. A new experience. The trick with story ideas is to figure out which ones are worth pursuing, because honestly, most of them aren’t worth basing an entire book on (in my humble opinion).
I recently released a free short story (available for a limited time). In this story, the main character, Liv, has the hots for her new boss, Hunter. But Liv doesn’t realise Hunter’s her new boss until after she’s made a total fool of herself in front of him. Sound familiar? Humiliation is something we’ve all experienced. It reminds me of that time a neighbour asked how I was doing, and I replied, ‘I’m in my pyjamas’. It was 5.30pm on a weekday, I was barefoot, barefaced and wearing an oversized shirt that said I loved eating pancakes in bed … embarrassing, I know. But I digress.
Hunter is a bad boy with tattoos, a beard and a Harley Davidson. He reminds Liv of her past life, and this leads to some hilarious outcomes.
But where did this story idea come from?
Well, one afternoon I was driving to an appointment and got stuck in traffic. The lights were painfully slow, only letting a few cars through at a time. Up ahead was a man sitting a motorbike, waiting for the lights to turn green. I started to wonder what this guy did for a living. Was this a hobby, or did he ride to work on that motorbike everyday? Was the motorbike more economical than my car? What did he do when it rained? I had so many questions, and before I knew it, I was sitting in the waiting room of my appointment devising an entire story about a guy on a motorbike.
I sat on the idea for months before I began writing. In my experience, I can’t sit down straight after an idea comes to me, and write an entire novel. No way. I need time to process the idea. To figure out the character goals and motivations, the conflicts, the resolutions. For me, it can take months for an idea to feel solid enough that I can put words down on paper.
By the time I sat down to write the story, it had nothing to do with that guy on the motorbike. He was simply the inspiration that sparked the idea. And so my hero, Hunter Hill was born. Liv’s character had been sitting in the back of my mind for a while, ready and waiting for the right man to come along. I was so excited to finally pair the two characters together.
The point I’m trying to make is ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. If you’re keen to write your own story, sit on your idea, explore it, and see where it takes you. If it fizzles out before you sit down to write it, that’s okay. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.
All in all, my story ideas come from random places and come to me at all times of the day. If I can impart any advice, it’s that simply observing the world around you can spark your imagination. After all, story ideas are sometimes found in the strangest places. So don’t be afraid to stop and observe. It could lead to some wonderful ideas.
P.S. Don’t be shy to share your comments below!