By Susan Reichert, Editor-in-Chief, Southern Writers Magazine
When asked where author’s get their stories, I look around me. After all we only need to look around to see all sorts of ideas. Then it is a matter of choosing an idea and turning our imaginations loose. Before we know it, we have a story started. Then comes the fun, fleshing it out.
As children we had great imaginations. I remember my sister and I had lots of paper dolls. We would always use the bed, it had the most space, and make great houses for them. We entertained ourselves many afternoons just making up stories as we played with those paper dolls.
At birthday parties, we would sit in a circle, boys and girls, and the birthday girl/boy got to choose the first sentence. Then we would go around to each person, and they would add a sentence to the story, until the very last person, which had to use a sentence to end the story. It was so much fun.
Children have a freedom that allows their imaginations to soar as they make up all sorts of tales. As we become adults, we seem to lose some of that freedom that allows our imaginations to take flight.
Everywhere we go, we can find people, settings, and if we are close enough sometimes, we can hear conversations. Even at our own dining room tables with families gathered we may hear a few nuggets to mine for story ideas. Just don’t use their names.
In current events you find suspense, mysteries, thrillers and sweet romance. Just look, listen and let your imagination do the work.
If you write historical fiction, then you will find the past is a gold mine just waiting for you. My goodness, you have a plethora of information to choose from––in any era. And if you like research, this is a dream come true.
One writer I know loves to go to the mall and walk around, visit the shops. She jots down all sorts of words from conversations. She may only get four or five words, but she can take those words and make a few pages out of them. Her imagination is great.
Another friend takes a note pad to the mall and jots down expressions on the faces she encounters. Listing hair colors and shapes, unusual clothing and how people walk. She says it helps her in developing her characters.
When I was in the hospital a few weeks back, I started paying close attention to things going on around me; the people, the doctors, nurses, and the situations occurring. One night I woke up and they were announcing over their intercom system a “code blue” where they were doing a heart cath. Later that night they announced a “code yellow” describing the person and what they were wearing. This meant a patient was missing. Hospitals have great ideas for stories. I would suggest however you not go as a patient to gather this material but perhaps visit.