March 1, 2017

Where do you get your ideas?

writing advice, writing tips, writing inspiration, author advice

I have gotten a lot of questions since my first novel, Dear Jane, was released. One of the most common had been "Where do you get your ideas?"
And the answer: Honestly? Everywhere.

I actually can't remember exactly what sparked Dear Jane. I do remember vividly, however, that I knew the title before I knew anything else. I knew I wanted to tell the story of a Sister missionary who receives a Dear Jane letter.  From there, the story just slowly unfolded.

Ever since I was a kid, I can remember rewriting my life. Usually in that space between waking and sleeping. I go over interactions that I had that day and rewrite them using words that I wish I had said or wondering what would have happened if they had said something differently. That kind of daydreaming has led to many a story. I take what might have been and twist it and turn it until an entirely new reality is formed. Characters are born, conflicts are magnified and it blossoms into an entire novel.

Alternately, I pay attention to the world around me. I don't like to use the word eavesdropping, but if you're having a conversation next to me, I'm not going to cover my ears and hum. Once again, my talent for creating a world around a conversation comes in handy and I take odds and ends of the overheard conversation and weave it into something new. I've heard other authors say, Don't tell me anything you don't want to end up in a book, and that is entirely true. It likely won't be your life story, but it just might be a silly detail that I thought was particularly memorable or an unusual phrase that rings true. There are a few family members who heard echoes of themselves in the pages of Dear Jane.

If you're thinking about writing, wondering where you can find your ideas, don't look to far. I imagine that you've been telling stories your entire life, whether to yourself as you fall asleep at night, or to the entertainment of your family at reunions, it doesn't matter. Figure out where your stories live and write them down. You're the only one who can.

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