Where do you get your ideas?

I get asked this a lot. If you write fiction, chances are, you do too.

The answer is simpler to say where DON’T I get my ideas. I would like to say that I read a lot. I don’t. I have kids. A full-time job outside of writing. Various writing oriented side jobs that help pay the bills. And the need to actually get out and have fun. I live close to the mountains in Colorado, so if a nice day goes by and I wasn’t out in it, I start to get a little cranky.

I glean a lot of my ideas from my own experiences. Little details can inspire me. A snippet of conversation overheard at a park or restaurant. Things that take me out of the real world, such as a Renaissance fair, or a bookstore, or just walking alone in the woods. Horrible people at the store, failed relationship, unrequited loves, random people you meet on the bus. A big part of writing is the characters. Collect experiences with interesting people and use them for your own nefarious purposes. Settings are next. Then the plot will come.

When I read, I tend to throw myself into reading until that book is done. I don’t get a lot of writing done when I’m reading. Sometimes I get ideas from arguments on the internet. Sometimes it’s from something as wonderful as a truly, awesomely shitty movie.

Bad movies often have more imagination than their production value was able to afford. They have a lot of heart. They have great characters…its just they couldn’t pay actors who were good enough to play them. And they sure as hell couldn’t afford better set designs.

The worst part about being inspired by bad movies is the ego trip involved, since you are telling yourself “I could write something better than this!” You are probably right. But the key here is actually getting on your butt and doing it!

Writing is 10% inspiration and 90% staying off the internet.

You’ll never write your novel just by making whitty comments on facebook. You’ll get instant gratification that somebody “liked” it within ten seconds of your posting, but that’s like trying to live off M&Ms for your life. When what you really need is a steak and a salad and a glass of good red wine. Facebook is the bag of candy. It’s just going to rot your teeth.

I’m on Facebook a lot. I’m lucky I have any motivation to write anything at all.

Also, social media doesn’t give you ideas like the good old forums used to. Some of Cinder was inspired by a science fiction magazine webforum. I don’t remember which bits. The forum is long gone now. I still keep in touch with some of the patrons.

Honestly, hanging out with those people in a virtual environment taught me more about writing and trying to publish fiction than a four year degree at a University which got me a degree in English and nothing much else to show for it.

More on that at another time. Here’s the obligatory link to my book!

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