A friend recently sent me something, via email, that grabbed me and it won’t let go. It was a sign, sort of, and it said, “Awkward Moment: When you’re digging a hole to bury a body – and you find another body already buried there.” As a mystery writer, how could I let that pass? A germ of an idea took hold and I have a basis for a new book.
Of course, this same friend also sent me one that said, “Next time a stranger talks to me when I’m alone I will look at them, shocked, and just whisper, ‘You can see me?’” Good grief! I have to admit there are times I feel like doing this, but I don’t.
I can’t use every sign for a story idea, but after my smile disappears, my brain kicks into gear and ideas start forming. Sometimes ideas for stories come from the most unusual places. If you’re a mystery writer, even a greeting card can start the ideas coming. A comment made in passing by a friend, or overheard at a coffee shop can inspire an entire book. It doesn’t take much more than a fertile imagination. Well, that and a lot of research and grinding hours at the computer.
One of the things I enjoy about the television show, Castle, is something will happen and he’ll start spinning stories to fit the crime, guessing about what might have happened. Once in a while he might even be right, although he’s usually way off base. This is something many writers do. Given a set of circumstances and without having the entire story, they’ll find a scenario to fit the information they do have.
I have a character in one of my two series who’s addicted to chocolate. At some point she’ll want to be involved in a chocolate mystery. When she was trapped in a ghost town, she ran out of chocolate and almost had a meltdown. I can relate to that. Hmm. This might involve a trip to a chocolate factory. I wouldn’t want to get my facts wrong, would I? I mean, research is research. This, happily, could be very interesting research involving some taste-testing.
Now I believe the Bogey Man is going to have to have a close encounter of the grave kind – when he least expects it. I’ve already started writing notes so I won’t forget where I want the story to go.
Someone worried that by writing this post another writer might steal my idea. Let them. There are so many possible scenarios that there’s room for all of us. Someone might write a dramatic and suspenseful story, and someone like me might write something with a little more humor. Another author could even turn it into a horror story.
The life of a writer is so much more than I ever thought it would be. It can be a very solitary existence, but there are moments when we come together and share ideas, and… Well, maybe we don’t share ideas, but we do share experiences and stories out of our own experiences. Mystery writers are, in general, very generous with their time and support of each other, and I do believe we frequently march to a different drummer. Yes, we even use clichés sometimes, like marching to a different drummer. If you prefer, you might say that occasionally we sing a little off key? I do, anyway.
Authors have a lot of fun. Aren’t you glad they share their fun through their books? We’ll do our very best to entertain readers and each other.