THAT Question

A while back, I had the privilege of getting to go to s book signing by James Rollins at a local bookstore.  He spoke for quite a while before actually signing books and he was fascinating to listen to, an entertaining and informative speaker (which isn’t necessarily true of all writers).  I had arrived a little late and as I was waiting for my mom and sister (both Sigma Force fans), I was standing in the back as opposed to sitting in the crowd proper.  At one point, Mr. Rollins commented that whenever he opens the floor for questions, someone always asks that one question every writer dreads to hear.  Leaning up against the top of the stairway railing, arms crossed, I smiled as I mouthed the words along with him: “Where do you get your ideas?”

Every writer has been asked some form of his question at some point in time, and it’s generally an eye-roll-inducing remark.  The problem is, there just is no good answer, no one-size fits all.  At least in my case, my ideas come from anywhere and every possible where.  And, sometimes, they come from nowhere at all, or at least no place I know.

One short story I wrote came from glimpsing two old men playing with a remote control car: two seconds I saw them, as I drove by, and a story was generated.  One of my books developed from a line I read in a physics book.  My most recent short story was the result of an actual conversation I had with my sister some 12 years ago.  My blog book germinated from a couple of words frequently used in the residential facility where I did my psychology internship.  I have one novel planned that revolves around song lyrics (so psyched about that one, too).  Last night I came up with an incredible first sentence from a man I passed while leaving the grocery store.  Inspiration is everywhere.

And then, there are times, when even I have no idea where the ideas come from.   Alyraekas is a mystery to me: I have no idea when or how the start of that story came to be.

I don’t start in any one particular place, either.  Sometimes, it’s a plot idea.  Sometimes, a sentence or fragment of a conversation.  Sometimes a setting.  Sometimes a title.  Sometimes a comment from another person.  Sometimes a scene from real life.  Sometimes a character.

In the past couple of months, I’ve had two characters creep into my thoughts, wanting their own story.  They haven’t been as demanding about it as some (Hood was the worst character about that, Rune next, although he took a much sneakier approach to it).  Theirs has been more of a gentle but constant insistence.  And with them, it all started with their names.  I had two names pop into my head that I knew I wanted to someday use as character names: Sterling and Havoc.  I had no sooner said their names out loud, than their characters started generating in my head.  They surprised me a little, being who they are.  And for a while, that was all I had: a somewhat vague notion of who these two people were.  Slowly, their story has started to develop in my mind, to come to me, leeching out of my subconscious where the plotlines frequently reside, just a bit at a time.  I still don’t have a fully developed story for them, nor the time to commit to putting it on paper even if I did (so many other projects going right now).   But I felt a need to publicly acknowledge them, so I compromised by offering them a blog post.  For now, hopefully, we can all be satisfied with this.


~ S.D. Bullard


~ by sdbullard on October 1, 2014.

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