Writing–where do you get your ideas?

My good news is that my Death & Loralei novellas bundle went online last week, and I think it’s beautiful to behold.  The cover shows all FOUR covers for the four novellas inside the collection.  I’m biased, because I searched through lots of images before I found ones that felt right.  And then Michael took them and made them wonderful.  Thanks, Michael!

The bad news?  I finished drafts for three more novellas to post off and on for the rest of the year while I work on a novel.  I have them “in waiting.”  And since they’re written, that gave me an excuse to do another massive cover search, scrolling through hundreds of images, to find ones that spoke to me.  I’m beginning to worry that I’m an image junkie.  And the thing is, I don’t just save the ones that might work for the stories I have ready.  I find ones that inspire other ideas for other stories, so I save those, too, with notes for what I might do with them.  More ideas for stories than I’ll probably ever be able to write.

One of my friends gets ideas for stories when she reads news articles.  She writes mysteries, so when she reads about a unique crime, she cuts out the article and then plays with the idea.  What if someone else committed the murder for a different reason?  What would motivate him to stab Mr. X fifteen times?  What was the backstory that led to the fury?  And when she’s done, the crime is the same, but the story’s completely unique.   A friend of mine who writes romance asks herself what could make a really wonderful girl and an absolutely terrific guy meet, have instant chemistry, and then do everything in their power to run away from each other?  What traits would pull them together AND push them apart?

I get inspired by lots of things.  I might want a small character I used in one novella to have a bigger role in the next one.  So I ask myself, what is there about this character that could bring her grief?  It’s almost always in her backstory–which the reader might only get glimpses of, it’s only important to me–and then I do what I can to make her life miserable until she resolves her conflicts (inner and outer).   BUT the other thing that inspires me is an awesome image.

I found– cover_mockup_17 — this image when I was searching through ideas for covers one day.  And the mood of the image made me think of all sorts of story ideas.  The moon and girl suggested a witch story.  But the girl’s not on a broomstick, so what if people just THOUGHT she was a witch?  And for some reason, the colors and shadows made me think bittersweet, a tragedy of some sort.  There’s a tree.  People used to hang witches, didn’t they?  The birds made me think of Death’s ravens, that travel with him.  So I decided to make it a Death & Loralei novella.  My imagination took off from there.

Inspiration comes from all sorts of tidbits and places.  One of my friends uses music to inspire her.  Another reads a novel that she loves and asks herself What could I do with the book’s big question that would be completely different?  How could I take that character flaw and go in a totally different direction?  Another friend loves research and Regencies, so asked herself what kind of Regency romance she’d like to read, and then wrote it.  A newspaper article, a stray conversation–ideas for stories are everywhere.   May you find your inspiration, and may the Muse fill in the rest…with lots of elbow grease from you.


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