So you are explaining your latest story idea to a friend....
"Where did you get that idea?" she says.
Let me think...it might have been when I was touring the countryside with my mother or walking my daughter home from preschool. It might have come from staring out the window at the college students who live across the street.
Tuck newspaper articles in notebooks, eavesdrop at restaurants and people watch in parks. Any of my ideas has spent part of its life as a brief notation in one of my ever-present notebooks. (I can tell the march of time by the change in ink color.)
The ideas that stick and find their way into my fiction are the ideas I wrote 6 years ago and can't forget. Or the ones I couldn't stop expanding on when I should have been listening to a lecture. My all-time favorites appear in a notebook, found after many years but perfectly fit for the writing project I'm on. Those are like finding a dollar bill (a large denomination) in a pair of pants I haven't worn in a while.
So maybe my plucking ideas from thin air isn't extraordinary. Embracing each one (by writing it down) might be considered rare.
Why do I jot down all these ideas? For me, I've found that I never know if an idea will be a good one or a fitting one or a high-denomination-dollar-in-the-pants-pocket-one until I've turned it around and lived with it for a while. Some of the ideas will never again see the light of day. But for others, if I don't write them down, I don't give them a chance to breath in the air from whence they were plucked. (Wow. Did I really write that? Sorry, folks!)
As a writer, you may entertain many ideas. Take some time to let the ideas germinate. You'll never know which ones may work and which ones may need a little air.
Elizabeth King Humphrey is a writer/editor living in coastal North Carolina and who loves to coax her clients to find their ideas everywhere.