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January 13, 2016

You have a story you’re working on. You’re either humming along, looking for local color for your characters and environment, or need a plot enhancement. Where will the ideas come from? How do you get your ideas? You start toying with ideas.


I almost literally pull my ideas out of the air. The other morning, I sat at the breakfast table, three in the morning. I had a banana and used my spoon to dig off a bruise. I’m not a big fan of eating the bruises. So, I thought, what if I had a character that only ate the bruises on the banana and threw away the rest of it? Wouldn’t that be weird? I toyed with that idea for a bit but filed it away for future reference. Right now, not only does it turn my stomach, it doesn’t fit with anything I’m working on.

As weird as that banana idea is, that’s how easy it is for me. Then again, there are hundreds if not thousands there to pile on top of it. Some will actually make it to one of my stories. These seeds of ideas can grow into something special and original.

Some of you record them somewhere. I suppose that’s a great idea. Me? Nope, I file them away in my mental cabinet. If they’re really that great, I’ll remember them. If not, they weren’t meant to be recalled. Call me fatalistic about that.

As with all seeds for ideas, you have to use them for something. To color any story, under what context?


The last thing you want is a cardboard character. It’s always best to breathe life into your people. Give them personalities and quirks to make them real, unusual and someone memorable. Even obscure characters can have something about them that sticks with you.

How about (because of a book I’m editing) a detective that clicks his pen obsessively. Or, from a book I read a while ago, an investigator that lives on the most horrible junk food, yet never gains any weight? Think of a bad guy that eats only green gummy bears. The list goes on. While you might not remember a thing about the story, that character may live on forever because you remember that he or she eats those gummy bears.


Whether real or not, giving quirks to places makes them memorable. When you’re toying with ideas, what if such and such a place had a museum of oatmeal cans decorated by chimpanzees? They are world famous for a collection of oatmeal cans decorated by chimpanzees from a local zoo. Is that weird enough for you? While you may never remember the plot or even the characters from the story, I’ll bet you’ll remember that! Is that an idea you could use in a book?

Toying with ideas.

You can make a story just as memorable, and bring life into your prose by livening up the environment around your characters. You don’t need to do it with page after page of exposition either. It can be a simple paragraph, or a piece of dialogue from a character. Simple! This idea you toyed with is a perfect way to enhance your story!


Toying with stuff is another thing. Has a new piece of technology ever popped into your head? In my fantasy world of Meleena, that happens all the time. In science fiction, the same. In the real world, it might be more difficult because reality sets in. We’re more restricted by the laws of physics and science. Then again, that’s not necessarily so. There’s wishful thinking. In my Gold series, I’ve “invented” a few things that are in truth, quite a few decades from development, yet not impossible. I can’t mention them without revealing spoilers. However, say you’re sitting at the dinner table or maybe driving to work and an idea for some thingamajig pops into your head. You toy with that idea for a while. Can you use it in your story? Hmmm…


Toying with ideas is the way to not only add to your story, it is writing your story! The little things add up to the big picture. Besides your main plot and what you have in your head for the chapters and scenes, toying with ideas in this case is about the little things. Don’t’ be too quick to disregard these crazy thoughts. You might run across some gems amongst all that gravel!

Happy writing!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 13, 2016 5:43 am

    great post! thanks…back to the keyboard..

  2. B. Doyle permalink
    January 24, 2016 5:41 am

    Nice post, I tend to think of things from time to time, but I’m horrible at writing them down. I’ve always thought that Nature is the greatest inspiration, and I’ve found that just going on long, several-mile walks is a great way to come up with ideas.

    • January 27, 2016 3:27 am

      B Doyle, Welcome to my site!

      I totally agree. Since I never DO write things down, they brew in the back of my brain. I too get inspiration from nature walks, or going to unusual places, say places I don’t usually go. It’s not like I travel a lot, but just moving around can be inspiring. Thanks for the kind words! Fred

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