Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Plucking Ideas from the Air

People always ask where the ideas for my fiction come from. My answer is "They're all around me." There are a hundred stories in every interaction, every chance meeting. The trick is to recognize the kernel of one that can be polished into a premise that will go the distance, an idea with the legs to propel me 400 pages.

The idea for HUSH came while I was, like my heroine Megan, stuck in traffic. In the side mirror of the car ahead of mine, I caught a glimpse of part of the driver's face. He was talking a blue streak and though I can't speechread like Megan, I wondered who he was talking to, what he was talking about. And because the heavy traffic had put me in a murderous frame of mind, my thoughts turned to killings-for-hire. I asked myself the writer's question--"What if ... ?" and the rest turned into HUSH.

My method of letting stories find me is not usual. I know some writers swear by brainstorming. Others use taro cards. Some start with character. Others are inspired by an object, by music, or news headlines. If you're a writer, where do you find your ideas?

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