Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

My guess is that every author has been asked that question many times. And I would suspect that most of them have more ideas than they'll ever have time to develop into a story or book.

Sometimes something that happens in life will trigger an idea for a story. That has happened to me more than once. I used a murder that actually happened in our area for three different books. The female owner of a mountain lodge was murdered in one of the cabins while asleep in bed with her Indian employee. (The handsome employee lived though he was shot too.) Her husband was in the southern part of the state tending to his automobile sales business giving him an airtight alibi. As the years passed, the man hired to do the murder decided to blackmail the husband and got killed for his trouble. That's when the husband was found out and arrested for the murder of his wife.

I used the murder of the owner of an inn, rather than a lodge, for my firs Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery, Deadly Trail. The story wasn't much like what actually happened, the murder victim was the male owner of the Inn, not female, and he wasn't killed in bed, but that real murder is what triggered the idea.

For another mystery in the Crabtree series, Intervention, I used the lodge in the real murder as the setting for a completely different story.

And once again, in a later Crabtree tale, Kindred Spirits, I lifted some aspects of that first real murder.

I like to save newspaper articles of interesting crimes and murders too. The story I write won't be exactly like the real happening, but often will give me a jumping off point for a plot of my own.

We recently had two deaths in our community that are far too coincidental. Female friends were found dead in their homes within hours of each other. No autopsies were done. One lady had no family at all and the other's family didn't acknowledge her until after her death. Of course I will work that into one of my mysteries.

And my latest book, Lingering Spirit, a romance with a touch of the supernatural, was inspired by a tragedy in my own family when my son-in-law was killed in the line of duty. I must add that it was only the inspiration, what happened after that is fiction.

You can learn more about any of these books on my website http://fictionforyou.com

What about you? Where do your ideas come from?



Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

Mine come from things I see and hear around me having nothing to do with murder or suspense. They always bring to mind the 'what if?.'
Giggles and Guns

Morgan Mandel said...

Sometimes I'll overhear conversations while walking to work and the spark my imagination.

For more about Marilyn and her new novel,
Stop by Wed. at http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com

Morgan Mandel

Mark Troy said...

I think I've had more ideas from Sports Illustrated than from any other source.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Being observant always help with writing, Mary. And Morgan, I love to eavesdrop too.

But, Mark, Sports Illustrated? Really?


Jean Henry Mead said...

I've read about murders in the newspaper since a child growing up in Los Angeles, and I covered murder trials as a news reporter, but I don't think I've ever used any specific case as the basis for one of my murders. A few details, perhaps, but my ideas just seem to present themselves as I'm writing. I'm blessed with a good imagination. :)

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I never use the exact details of a real murder, but when I read or hear about one, I always think, "What if it happened this way?"


Helen Ginger said...

I can't say any specific place. Ideas come from dreams, something I read about, or ideas I gather from overheard conversations, for example.

Mike Dennis said...

Three of my novels have come from lines in songs. The line (usually a 2-line couplet) will just jump out at me and suggest a germ of a story.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

My dreams are too crazy to ever put in a book, Helen.

Mike, that's interesting that you've been inspired by lines in songs. I guess I just don't pay that much attention to music.