A Strange Mash-up

To quote the Zen Master Lucas in the 1995 movie Empire Records: “Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear.”

Ok, so he wasn’t really a Zen Master, but he makes a valid point. It’s hard for writers to answer the “where do your ideas come from” question because they are like any ideas. We get them from everywhere.

Some of my ideas come from life experiences, in attempt to follow that old adage to write what you know. Most of what I know is boring, so I have to add monsters to all of my stories, but I make my characters as real as I can by infusing them with organic feelings. Any sorrow, any joy, any outrage can be magnified to create a vivid character.

What I read and watch and see and hear influences my writing a great deal. While I sleep, or even while I daydream, my brain will come up with strange mash-ups from different sources which result in some of my best story ideas. My subconscious mind will work overtime to take a news story combined with a fantasy novel then weave in something I overheard at work, and the finished product will surface in that surreal place between sleep and awake where you have control over your dreams.

Sometimes instead of a plot unfolding, a character will bubble up from the depths of my mind and demand I tell his or her story, or a setting will beg for a story to be told within it.

For writers, anything can become a story. I probably announce on a daily basis that something I’ve seen or heard would make a good story. Just the other day I was walking through a crowded mall full of Christmas shoppers and a horror story emerged from my social phobia-induced panic.

Nothing is safe from writers. If you know any, be very careful not to do or say anything interesting around them, because it will inevitably find its way into one of their stories. We very rarely credit our sources and tend to over-exaggerate every detail. You never know where our ideas are going to come from, and we steal whatever we can.

And sometimes they just appear.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

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