The most frequently asked question that published author-speakers report they answer is, “where do your ideas come from?” Followed by, “where do you get your characters from?”
Summer is a time of gatherings, less frantic and formal than those of the winter months. Over cold beer or lemonade, amidst the burgers, (soy or other) hot dogs, cold salads and fresh iced fruit, many stories are shared. Alongside campfires, after the S’mores are eaten and the bug spray applied, story-tellers fascinate and terrorize campers with stories of huge, scary creatures and horrible murders. (Yes, I understand there are no “good” murders, but you get my meaning.)
Stories and characters are all around us, all the time. In the blur that is everyday life, we miss them. The charming red-lipped cherub in the grocery buggy we saw in the store made us smile – what had he been eating? A ripe juicy strawberry or a cherry-flavored ice pop? Was he surprised by the taste or the cold or delighted? Or how about the experienced gent who packs groceries to supplement his Social Security check at the local market who, with a twinkle in his bright blue eyes, winked at you as he spoke of his latest excapades with his wife of fifty years on their Vegas trip last month.
There is NO shortage of fodder for plots or characters. There is always a need in the world for fresh voices and clever turns of phrase in fiction or non. Take mental notes or jot things down in a pocket-sized notebook. Be aware. Stay alert. The most fabulous ideas and people are all around you!
Capture family legends and tales while you can. Enrobe your characters in the three-dimensional characteristics of the colorful people you meet every day or at the family/church/office picnic.
Enjoy all that life has to offer and then write it down. In a novel or a diary. In an article or a column. Doesn’t matter. We’re scribes of what is around us and in our own way, we make a difference. When we pay attention, we make a positive difference for those around us as well as for ourselves.
“Be careful or you just might end up in my next novel” is a warning that you should give often and always with a smile!