Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WHERE WRITERS GET IDEAS

By Caroline Clemmons



Every author is asked a gazillion times where he/she gets ideas for all his/her stories. People who aren’t writers--ie, normal people--don’t have all these people in their head talking to them. No, writers (at least most of us) aren’t schizophrenics and don’t have disassociative disorder. We have muses.

Muse at work
Muses are wonderful. Yep, and those muses consist of characters who talk to us until we write their story to get them to shut up. Not that we EVER want them to stop talking! Just the loudest ones, the ones who demand their story now, which is why we translate their epic from our muse to the computer as fast as possible. If you’ve ever wondered why an author slips in stories between releases of a series, that may be one reason.

Yesterday, Lauri Robinson said in her excellent post that writers are always writing, even when we are doing totally unrelated tasks. At the same time, we are always acquiring new ideas. Everything we see or hear becomes a “what if” kernel for a story plot.

For instance, on Thursday my friend told me her son, who is working in another state while his wife and daughter remain here, was very ill and had been to the ER. All the time she was relating her son’s experience, the friend part of me deeply sympathized with her. The writer part of me, though, was thinking, "Hey, what a great story idea! This would make such a good book if the heroines were....”

Muses sprinkle
fairy dust ideas
Don’t think I’m callous. I really do sympathize not only with a mother worried about her son, but with the ailing son stuck many states away from home. Terrible situation, but that’s what makes a great story. While sympathizing with her, the situation ignites my muse.

Even when we stare off into the distance, we are writing. This is hard on family members, who sometimes may think we’re not paying attention to the conversation. (We’re probably not.) My husband once asked me what I was staring at each day when I looked at our hay meadow from the breakfast room window. The answer is nothing. It’s just a pleasant scene to observe while I’m thinking, but sometimes I see only what's in my head, not anything real. One of my favorite cartoon comics is an old Shoe strip which shows him with his feet on his messy desk while staring off into space for a couple of frames. He almost looks as if he could be dozing. His nephew comes by and says something to him. Shoe snaps, “Can’t you see I’m writing?”
Fortunately, my husband is a true Hero and realizes my blank stares or semi-doze
states equate working out plots.

Staring into space
can be writing
Author Meg Chittendon said, “Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stare at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing.”

And we are simply incurable. There is no 12-Step Program for writers. That’s all right with me. There’s nothing I’d rather do than write. Although, I really enjoy having people read my books, especially if they have kind things to say.

One idea source I haven't experienced, but which many others have, is dreams. Some authors have entire books come to them in dreams. Others dream initial ideas. I just sleep. If I've been worrying because a scene doesn't feel right, then sometimes when I awake the next morning, the idea comes to me of what's needed to correct the scene. That's as much as I can claim.

Except for years in Southern California from ten months to age seven, I grew up in Texas. My husband and I live on a small acreage in rural North Central Texas. As early as I can remember, my father talked about his ancestors moving from Georgia to Texas in the 1800's. His stories fueled a love of history, especially Texas history. You can understand why each of my books is primarily set in Texas. In the event you are interested, and I hope you are, here are links to all my books, not just the romances.

Each is available from Amazon at .
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_17?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=caroline+clemmons&sprefix=Caroline+Clemmons
Those labeled with TWRP are also available from The Wild Rose Press at
http://www.thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=638
My page at Smashwords is https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CarolineClemmons

ALMOST HOME - contemporary mystery Amazon, Smashwords
BE MY GUEST contemporary romance Amazon, Smashwords
BRAZOS BRIDE historical romance Book One, Men of Stone Mountain trilogy, Amazon
DIGGING FOR DEATH cozy mystery, book one of Heather Cameron series
Amazon
HAPPY IS THE BRIDE historical novella, Amazon, Smashwords
HOME, SWEET TEXAS HOME contemporary romance TWRP
LONG WAY HOME historical novella, Amazon, Smashwords
OUT OF THE BLUE contemporary time travel romantic suspense TWRP
SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME historical novella TWRP
SNOWFIRES contemporary romance, Amazon, Smashwords
THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND historical romance, Book Two, Kincaids
Amazon, Smashwords
THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE historical romance, Book One, Kincaids
Amazon, Smashwords
THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE historical romance TWRP

Thanks for stopping by!
Me with cup of tea, and my cat Bailey
wanting to be petted

7 comments:

  1. It's so true! We writers can take any situation and find a way to make a story or use it in a story. Our minds are always conjuring up 'what ifs'.

    My mind is always going, always on overload. One day as we(hubby and I) were driving to our boonies property, I asked him what he was thinking about. He said, "Nothing." I said, "No, you have to be thinking of something." He responded. "Nope, just enjoying the scenery." I couldn't believe it! I had so much trouncing around in my head I couldn't keep it all straight!

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  2. You got it down just right, Caroline. Whenever I'm quiet, hubby knows right off I've got a story in my head. And you are so right. Non-writers just DO NOT UNDERSTAND. When the muse hits, you can't stop. You just can't.

    Good one!

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  3. Oh, Caroline, this sounds SO familiar. :o) I think I scare my non-writer friends when I talk about the voices in my head and the characters who demand their story be told.

    Also, they don't get when I'm quiet and looking off, I'm not bored, and I don't need them to fill in the silence my characters are doing that. :o)

    --Kirsten

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  4. I've always been amazed by "normal" people. How do they go through life without all those voices and scenes playing out in their heads! Seriously, I think the medical community should do a study. I've come to the conclusion that writer's brains are wired differently than other people.

    When I hear someone say, "I'm bored," I admit, it disgusts me a little. Are writers ever bored? I doubt it. There are too many exciting things going on inside our heads.

    When I'm staring off, hubby sometimes asks, "Where are you?"

    I do some of my best brainstorming while driving alone. But it can be dangerous. Can't tell you how many times I've passed up my turn and had to turn around and go back because I was in the middle of a scene in my head.

    Could go on endlessly. This is a fascinating subject, Caroline. Thanks so much for the post! :)

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  5. Caroline--wonderful thoughts, indeed. Often I'm staring out the window or at the computer screen or whatever, and my dh comes in and asks a questions. It no more registers than a man in the moon, and I turn...I know..with a blank look on my face. He says...didn't you hear me? Hear you? Yes, I suppose...I just don't know what you said.
    Drives him crazy.
    But that's the way it is. Even when watching a tv show, my brain may switch to a scene I'm writing or thinking about. Very strange.
    I don't think I did this before 2004, when I "accidentally" wrote a novel. Very, very odd...my brain switched into some other gear or realm, a place I'd never been.
    One of your commentors mentioned people being bored..that, too,annoys me. I can sit with absolutely nothing to do and entertain myself.
    Good job Caroline...

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  6. Thanks for your comments, ladies. And, Devon, I admit to having missed my turn numerous times. My husband is very understanding, but he is aghast at my missing our turn off. He thinks I might not be aware of the traffic, but I am. I'm cautious of other cars, just not in relation to where I'm headed. LOL

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  7. Isn't it nice to know we are the 'normal' ones! I've always thought people had people in their heads like me. I can remember way back when I was a child and had so many friends in my head. I thought everybody had the same experience. The best time was when we were on long car trips - never got bored because of my muse friends. My brother - to this very day - cannot understand why I have such a social life with so many friends. Poor guy - he's never figured it out. ;)

    True, I do have particular people who brighten my muse,who never leave and I love them the most. I hope they stick around and help me with the rest of the story I have to write.

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