Wednesday on Writing: Ideas

One of the questions writers get asked a lot is: Where do you get your ideas? I think the most common answer is: Everywhere! I also think it’s the truest one, at least for me. An article read online. Something on TV. A snippet of overheard conversation. A picture. It just pops into your head. Sitting down with pencil and paper and just doodling or free writing. All of these things have sparked stories for me. There isn’t a tried-and-true, one size fits all answer to that. It is much the same as most anything in life.

I think a more interesting question might be: What is an idea? Is it a fully formed concept for a story? Is it just a whisper of something, vague and foggy? Something in between?

Let me give you an example. A few nights ago, I woke up at 4 AM with a scene in my head. I got up, got a pencil and paper, and sat scribbling the scene down. At 4 AM. I knew if I didn’t, by morning, all I would remember is that I woke up with this thing in my head but I’ll be damned if I remember any of it now. Here’s the scene:

I woke looking up at the ceiling tiles. Except we don’t have ceiling tiles. I blinked a few times, thinking the bright light must be confusing me, but they didn’t go away. I turned my head, ignoring the painful headache the motion caused. There was a blonde woman sitting in a chair placed diagonally across the corner of the room. She was closing the small red book she’d been reading.

“I’m Christine,” she said. “I’ll be watching you.”

That’s it. No context. No thought where it may (or may not) be going. Just this little vignette. So, is that an idea? I don’t know. It’s maybe a piece of flash fiction. Or it could be a short story, a novella, or even a full novel if the rest of it surfaces at some point.

But is it an idea? According to one of the definitions of idea in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, it does qualify:

5a: an entity (such as a thought, concept, sensation, or image) actually or potentially present to consciousness

b: an indefinite or unformed conception

I don’t know, though. To me, that little snippet is barely an idea. It might turn into an idea if it simmers in my subconscious long enough. Or it might not. I generally think of an idea as the basic concept of a complete story. Not fully realized and surely subject to change, but at least a progression of start, middle, end.

Ideas are funny things. They are different things to different people. And they come at you from all sorts of angles. I think the most important thing is to always be open to the possibility that something, anything can spark an idea. Even a weird, four in the morning, half-dream.


Two's Company small thumbnailMedusa “Deuce” Grainger is smart, confident, and as good a pilot as she is a poker player. A freelance shuttle jockey working for an independent terraforming company, she’s left her former life, and her father, behind. Mostly.

Now, her AI has downloaded another Personality off a wrecked ship, and he’s acting oddly ever since. Someone wants to sabotage her friend’s company out of business, evidence of tampering is being corrupted, and people have died.  With an investigation looming that could shut down the company and cut off her main source of income, it’s up to Deuce to figure out what’s going on, and how all the pieces fit the puzzle. Along the way, she reconnects with an old friend and discovers someone is stalking her. Deuce will need to connect all the dots fast, because more lives are at stake than anyone suspects.

Learn more here.

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After five years away, Kaili is coming home for the ceremony to install her sister as head of the family business. When an old rivalry threatens the family, Kaili and her partner need to use all their skills to save the sisters’ lives. Learn more here



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A collection of six short fantasy stories set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Learn more here.




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A short novelette set in a dystopian Earth after the final environmental collapse. Sam is a genetically engineered chameleon who may hold the key to mankind’s survival. Learn more here.




In a world reeling under the effects of severe climate change, food shortages are common, and arable farmland is scarce. Unscupulous distributors like Beni Oligowma take advantage of the shortages for their own gain. When a promising new technology for growing food even under the harsh conditions is unveiled, grocery store owner Frank is determined to see that everyone is able to benefit from the results, not just the Benis of the world.
Feed My People is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free. Learn more here


Five and Daemonthumb

Demon hunters Johnny and Cerise travel to the small town of Carroll Fork where they find a demon-possessed thrift store, a sweet old lady who is more than she seems, and an army of underworld inhabitants. Can Johnny and his trusty yo-yo save the town from a devil of a problem?

Five and Daemon, the Yo-Yo Files #1, is a short novelette in an urban fantasy setting, with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here



Things have been quiet. No demonic possessions, no otherworldly intrusions, nothing. And then Lucifer shows up in Johnny’s living room, claiming that two archangels are missing, and something is definitely not right in the heavenly- and other- realms. Saying he has nothing to do with it- this time- he asks Johnny and Cerise to help him find out what’s happening, and who is behind the disappearances. While they are trying to do just that, Lucifer is devilnapped by a larger-than-life serpent. He manages to get a clue to Johnny before he disappears. Johnny and Cerise are left to puzzle out the disappearances and try to find the missing angels. Oh, and stop what could mean the ultimate destruction of pretty much everything.

Snake’s Alive, the Yo-Yo Files #2 is an urban fantasy novelette with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here.