Ideas

I often have people ask where I get my ideas. Most writers don't seem to appreciate this question. Probably because it's vague, and everyone asks it. I know I've given the answer: "I don't know—they just come to me." Which is as ill-defined as the question, and I apologize for that. The best answer I can give you now is that I think in stories, so any idea, something as small as a name I can't get out of my head, can turn into a book. Why? Because I'm a writer, and that's how I work.

However, this time, because it just happened, I have a more specific example for you. Two nights ago, when I was on the verge of sleep, something popped into my head—something so enlightening that I grabbed my phone from my nightstand and typed the following: Thought vampires. Psychic tech invented and is in place for several years. What are the consequences? What didn't they see?? That's all there was to it, just a few jumbled thoughts. Or maybe that's what you see. I see an entire back story on which I can base at least 3 novels. Because I think in stories, and I trust myself as a writer—and most importantly, I've done it before. Many, many times.

This morning, as I was laying in bed debating whether or not to get up and turn on the espresso machine, the opening scene came to me—the perfect way to start the story. That's where I get my ideas—in quiet time when I least expect them. Sometimes they're nothing, and sometimes they're everything. Regardless, I always write them down. Yes, something some as simple as a name [Emeric] can turn into an entire novel [After the Fall, which I wrote during National Novel Writing Month last year].

If you want to be a writer, you have to write. It's a time commitment, and there's no getting around that. But also, most importantly, you really have to trust your instincts. You have to have confidence that you're capable of sustaining a story for 50,000+ words. And it's important to keep in mind that ideas don't necessarily keep the story going. Knowing what to do with them, when to use them, how to pace them—that's how you write a novel.