Getting ideas is one of my favorite things about writing. I laugh when published authors are asked where they get their ideas. The question for me is, how to turn the ideas off!

I’ve gotten some ideas from dreams. My first book, a cop story, was a dream. A couple, estranged with children, kidnapped and held together. The book didn’t come out like that, but the characters were basically the same. That book became Second Chances. My fifth was another dream, which I made into a short story (and had published!), but then expanded. It was a single mom story, and I loved it. More women’s fiction, though the heroine was barely 20. Surface was a dream, a woman going to find her husband on an archaeological dig. It became a ship after I did some research. Okay, a lot of research.
Eden’s Warrior was a dream, more Planet of the Apes than it actually turned out.

Then there are what-if books. My second book was a what-if. What if I was single and was helping my grandmother retain her independence and city girl that I am, fell in love with a country boy? I worked on that book for a couple of years. I think it came in at 600 pages. Had three heroines and heroes, though. Smoke was inspired by Oscar the Incredibly Handsome Firefighter. I can’t find his picture anymore, but he was a guitar player in the San Antonio Firefighter band, Backdraft, which came to schools to talk to kids about drugs. Turns out Oscar’s dad and my uncle are best friends, and my cousin is about Oscar’s age. I took that and made a story about best friends falling in love. Heart of a Knight was another what-if. Elizabeth Smart had been found, and I wondered what kind of woman she would become. And what would happen if she had to hunt her own kidnapper. I have a couple more what-if partials, including one where we were driving and my husband said, “I wonder what’s down that road.” Dude. Full blown characters popped into my head.

Then there are the “headline” books. Hot Shot was inspired by the Colorado wildfires in 2000, I think. Firefighting was all over the news. Cindi Myers, a former SARA, was caught in the big middle, talking about the heroic firemen and Gabe Cooper was born. I love Gabe.
My fourth was inspired by a show I’d seen on Animal Planet or something, about rhinos. I worked and reworked that story, never could come up with a good strong idea. I sure loved it, though. Still collect rhinos. Then there are the partials. The show I saw about the cruise ship to Antarctica. What would Anna Nicole Smith’s son be like when he grew up, what about Mary Kay Letourneau’s kids and did Brittany Spears REALLY love Justin Timberlake or was it all a PR ruse?

I know this won’t surprise you, but some are hunk books. My third book was inspired by a basketball player. Don’t ask. The next couple were inspired by hunks – Hugh Jackman, Goran Visnijc and Oded Fehr.

Some are inspired by movies or TV shows. Again, I sense your surprise. Worth Bargaining For came from an episode of ER, the one where Carol is in the convenience store when it’s being robbed. Only in my story, she creates a connection with the hostage negotiator. I never got a really good story going around that one, either. My WIP came from a line in Tomb Raider 2. Lara Croft is in Terry Sheridan’s cell and he says, “What if they decide me, back in the world, isn’t such a good idea?” and she said, “I feel sorry for whoever they get to come after you.” The story isn’t quite working out that way, got a nice little twist from the ending of 24, but that was the seed. Then there are my partials, which have come from movies (Moulin Rouge and Collateral Damage.) There are even some paranormal stuff in there, from watching Buffy and Angel.

Ideas are all over the place. Now to find the time.

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Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Thanks for sharing, Mary. I totally agree ideas can come about from every part of your life. Any one small thing can be worked into a book. Your books sound wonderful!

Amie Stuart said...

My first five wips (not all finished) came from a storyline I played with in my head for over 2 years LOL--series anyone? But I've got snippets and started stuff and ideas scattered all over the place. Including a time travel!
And my current wip was actually a conglomeration of ideas brought on by a guest speaker who talked about pitching and themes--a year ago! Guess I should quit playing and go finish it huh? LOL

MJFredrick said...

Aren't ideas wonderful? Apparently, it's genetic in my family. My mother and grandmother are always people watching and trying to figure out the story behind them.

And yes, Cece, GET TO WORK! ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm always amazed when I meet a writer who doesn't have a bazillion ideas yammering around in her head. So many ideas, so little time...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

MJFredrick said...

Kacey, I know two writers who get excited when they have more than one idea at a time. I'm flabbergasted. I have to focus on one at a time!

Shesawriter said...

I like the way your mind works, Mary. The ideas come from strange combos which will give you a unique story. And that's what sells.


MJFredrick said...

My mind is definitely twisted, that's for sure! Then I saw Tears of the Sun last night and my mind went in a totally different direction!

Kim said...

Oh I get tons of ideas at once. Sometimes I get so confused in which direction I want to go and I can definitely see the influence of what I'm writing and reading in my work.
Good luck to you!

MJFredrick said...

Kim, one of my friends puts her ideas on strips of paper, then puts them in a bowl and picks one to work on. This hasn't worked for me - I have to go with the one calling my name the strongest.

Amie Stuart said...

I just CANT work on more than one idea at a time. It's like having two kids talking to me, wanting different stuff RIGHT NOW LOL =\
Okay i did six pages.

MJFredrick said...

Oh, I can't work on two ideas, either. My PLAN was to work on one story and revise a second this summer, work on one early and the other late. But I have to give all my energy to one story at a time.

WTG on the 6 pages, Cece!


M.J. Fredrick's books on Goodreads
Breaking DaylightBreaking Daylight
ratings: 11 (avg rating 3.33)

Beneath the SurfaceBeneath the Surface
ratings: 11 (avg rating 4.00)

Hot ShotHot Shot (Samhain)
reviews: 2
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.00)

Where There's SmokeWhere There's Smoke
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.00)

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I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher and a writer. I have five cats and a dog to keep me company. I love bookstores and libraries and Netflix - movies are my greatest weakness.
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