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Where do those ideas come from?

Last week, one of our movie colleagues from the west coast came into the office for a meeting and, before we began discussing various projects, she mentioned that whenever she is in a new city, she immediately goes to the local news to find out a little more about what is “happening” there.  (We actually began by talking about our mayor Bloomberg trying to ban those huge bottles of soda.)

That discussion got me to thinking about ideas and where they come from—in particular the ideas that form the basis of novels.  I know that many first time novelists take their ideas from their own lives and experiences and that is totally natural.  Our longtime client, Gus Lee based both CHINA BOY and HONOR AND DUTY on his life, for instance.  But after that, what happens?

Some, I know, turn nonfiction stories into fiction—we see this especially with television series  like Law and Order; some use the events of history as the basis of their novels. Another of our clients, Mary Doria Russell, has based her last novels on Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. And in his new novel, MURDER AS A FINE ART, our bestselling author David Morrell goes back to the 18oos and the works of notorious opium eater Thomas De Quincey  to create his story.

And so I thought I would ask you writers who I hope are reading this blog where your ideas come from, your own or other peoples’ lives?  I look forward to reading your responses.

4 Responses to Where do those ideas come from?

  1. jeffo says:

    My ideas have come from a couple of different things. Usually, something I see or hear makes me ask, “What if…?” The first novel I started came from several things I’d seen and heard on the news over a couple of months involving the Tea Party, hate groups, and Stephen King’s Under The Dome. That one was, I think, a little too ambitious for me at the time, and its time may have passed.

  2. Nicole says:

    I am so glad you asked this. I recently blogged about it because the MS I am currently working on came from a random YouTube video of a man in a fire-suit. It has become my very favorite because it really stretched my creativity. I also was inspired one morning by a sound similar to what Hollywood portrays as missiles dropping, that one is on my queue still.

  3. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    I think ideas are “things” in a lot of cases that one tunes into like radio signal or website; during the course of any given day I might have half a dozen that fly by, although, like stuff you see online, one has to step back and say, “No, I could never sell that, intriguing though it is,” or (more likely) “What, are you kidding!? That’s just stupid!” I find the best stuff is the interesting rock one picks up that turns out to be pure gold; after the book is finished, one observes, “Wow, where the hell did THAT come from?!?

  4. D.C. DaCosta says:

    I think that in my case, the philosophy of the work (every work has a message, IMHO) comes from my own experiences.

    But often the events are taken right out of my morning newspaper:
    – grandmother jailed for starving grandson
    – police discover “grenade” at building site only a plastic toy
    – felon arrested living next door to detective

    Someone once said “Truth is stranger than fiction”. My mother always used to say, “You can’t make this stuff up!”

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