Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Napkins, Please

Today my guest is author Katherine Grey. Katherine writes historical romance set primary in the Regency period. Her debut novel was released in August, 2011. In today's blog post she tells us how she learned where her story ideas come from.

Have you ever wondered where writers get their ideas? Or as a writer been asked, “Where do you get your ideas for your books?”

The first time I was asked that I floundered around for an answer like a fish caught on dry land. I didn’t know what to say, my mind jumping from one thing to another and discarding them all for fear of sounding like a person who needed some serious mental health care. Maybe, because at the time, I wasn’t really sure where my ideas came from. They were just there, some fully formed, some not so much.

A few weeks after that embarrassing incident, I was in a local restaurant having dinner with a few family members. A loud voice suddenly said, “What do you think I’m an idiot?” I looked behind me and saw a man and a woman sitting two tables away. He looked angry and had his hand wrapped around the woman’s wrist where it lay on the table. She was just staring at him, not saying a word. I turned back around and my sister asked in a low voice, “Do you think we should get the manager?

Before I could say a word, a complete scene formed in my mind. I grabbed the pen from my purse, said yes to my sister, and started scribbling on the nearest paper napkin. I wrote on the front and back of my napkin, my sister’s, and the three other people’s dining with us. I grabbed the stack the server had set on the table as extras as we had a small child with us and everyone knows you never have enough napkins when toddlers are involved. Settings, dialog, and back story, it all flooded into my mind and I wrote furiously trying to capture it all. By the time I finished I had eight napkins covered front and back with the bones of a future story. And yes, my family was staring at me like I’d lost my mind.

It was then that I realized where I get my story ideas from. Sometimes, it’s a snippet of an overheard conversation, a news story, a song, or a line from a movie or television program, or even from a conversation with friends or family members. Of course, I always get their okay to use something from a private conversation first. After that day, I’ve never had to think twice about answering the “Where do you get your ideas” question. I simply say, “everywhere.”

And in case you were wondering about what happened with the couple behind us… They were running lines from a play. According to the manager, they come in all the time to work on their lines while getting something to eat, often giving a few free passes to staff members to come see the latest play they’re in.

Katherine's novel IMPETUOUS can be purchased at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

You can find Katherine on her blog and Facebook.

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Alison H. said...

Hi Katherine, I loved this post! It addresses my favorite part of writing--that time when the initial kernal of an idea starts to unfold and billow into a story. Thanks for sharing.

Katherine said...

Hi Alison, I'm glad you liked the post. That's my favorite part of writing too. I love it when the characters start to come to life. Thanks for stopping by. :o)

Cara Marsi said...

This is a great post. Loved that the couple were actors rehearsing a play. How very cool that you got all those ideas shooting through your head. I get my ideas from snippits of conversation, from things that happened to me in the past (of course by the time the book is written it bears no resemblance to anything that happened to me). Using something that happened to me is a great way to get back at those old boyfriends who dumped me. I also get ideas from old movies. I'm an old movie buff. I like to write about places I've traveled.

Nancy Jardine said...

In some ways I wish they had not been actors. Just think if the woman had socked the guy, or vice versa what would you be writing now? I'm not usually so impetuous as you, but I do confess that sometimes when I go to my husband's Jazz Club venue, if the music isn't gripping me by the neck, I do scribble a bit when I imagine what others in the audience are like.

Katherine said...

Hi Nancy, I guess if the couple hadn't been actors, I could be writing a true crime novel or a murder story with either one of them being the killer.

What a great idea of watching the audience and imagining what their lives are like and what type of people they are. I might have to borrow that idea the next time I'm trapped in a doctor's office.

Thanks for stopping by. :o)

Katherine said...

Hi Cara, I love that you use your writing to get back at your old boyfriends. I have a friend who writes murder mysteries. She says she's killed her ex-husband numerous times in various ways in various books.

I'm very glad the couple were actors. I'd hate to think how things could have turned out if the guy was actually threatening the woman and the police were called.

Thanks for stopping by. :o)

Katherine said...

Hi Cara, I like the idea that you use your writing to get back at your old boyfriends. I have a friend that writes murder mysteries who says she's killed her ex-husband numerous times in various ways in various books and that's it's very satisfying.

I'm glad the couple were actors. I'd hate to think how things could have turned out if they weren't.

Thanks for stopping by. :o)

Kathy said...

Oh how funny. I loved your post. I have as an unpublished author been asked the same question. It is like it is just there. My current NaNo story idea came from a game I like to play on facebook. I used time travel and murder how much fun.

Vonnie Hughes said...

Katherine, how lucky for you to be in the right spot at the right time and be able to derive a whole story out of it. I've done that a time or two, but not from an isolated comment. Well done you.

Linda Hope Lee said...

I'm impressed with how fast your ideas came from what you saw and overheard in the restaurant. Never happens that fast for me! Most of my story ideas originate with the setting, places I visit, usually small towns, that spark my interest. I start to wonder about the people who live there and build the story from there.

Karen C said...

What a great story! I'm one of those who wonder about the inspiration for a story and I love that a writer's mind can take off and create so much with so little. Thank you.