Where Do Ideas Come From

This is a question writers get asked constantly. Most of us don’t have a concrete answer. I know I don’t. Mine come from all over the place. I never know what is going to trigger one. I was reading a book by Donald Maass this morning, and a four word line grabbed my attention, set off some spark, which created a first line and the next thing I know I have written the opening page of a new book, know the story is a story of a the main character’s journey, that the main character is a man who is unemployed, and is probably an anti-romance, or will at least start out that way.

Today is my release date for THE OUTLAW BRIDE (Carina Press). I started writing this book in early 2003. I remember I posed the question – What would you risk to keep a promise? But if you asked me what prompted the question, I haven’t a clue. As far as I know, it came out of nowhere, popped out of the ether and arrived in my cranium.

Oftentimes, my stories start when an opening line pops into my head. But anything can spark that line, and most times, when it hits, I couldn’t go back and tell you what it was got the creative juices flowing. Sometimes it’s something concrete – a line from a book or newspaper or song; a character from a tv show or movie that makes me think ‘what if that character was dropped in this situation or had this background, how would it change who they are?’. Other times, it can be something as nebulous as the weather, the scent of spring in the air, a sound in the dark, angry voices, the sound of birds singing or bees buzzing.

The idea behind my manuscript Desire & Brimstone was prompted by, of all things, a facial expression. I was watching the movie Reign of Fire. Christian Bale’s character had a certain expression, and that expression spawned a character in my mind (one completely different than the one he was playing). That character’s background grew. Weird thing is, the character created is a secondary character in Brimstone. He doesn’t come into his own until Book 2. Yet his character is pivotal to getting the ball rolling in Book 1. So basically, a 4 book series was created out of one 2 second facial expression.

While writers are often being asked the ‘idea’ question, I always wonder – do non-writers experience this? Do lines or people or situations pop into their heads and they simply don’t write it down or follow the train of thought? But how do you phrase such a question? Do you walk up and say, Psstt…do you hear the voices too?’

And what would happen if a non-writer did write it down? Would they realize how much fun it is creating these other worlds and join our madness? Or would they look at that idea, realize the blood, sweat and tears required to turn it into a full-fledged novel and run for the hills?

I’m not sure which is the most sane approach – writing or running, but I suspect if I didn’t write them down, my head would explode, and I would miss out on a whole lot of fun.

Author Bio: Kelly Boyce’s first release, THE OUTLAW BRIDE, is available from Carina Press today. Meanwhile, she is busy trying to keep her other ideas corralled while she diligently works on Book 2 in the Brides of Fatal Bluff series.

Facebook Page: Kelly Boyce, Author

Twitter: @KellyLBoyce


  1. Kelly, happy release day. I loved hearing where your ideas come from. They do often spark from the smallest of things. And the next thing you know, there are characters and plot. It's all so much fun!!

  2. A great question, Kelly - likely non-writers but other artists get hit with the same inspirations, but take it somewhere different. As for the ones who maybe get ideas but don't do anything with them - is it safer and saner to refuse the call? I would tend to encourage people to at least give it a try.

    Happy Release Day, Kelly - SO very excited for you!!

  3. Congratulations on your first release, Kelly!! Hope you're celebrating.

  4. Congrats!
    When people ask...where do your ideas come from? They mustn't have as active imaginations or they refuse them, like Julia suggested. However, I don't think I could articulate where my ideas come from either. I usually have an obsession with something and I have to write about it to explore it more.
    Great post.
    The Wandefull Traveler

  5. Yahoo! Happy release day, Kelly. Ideas are funny things. I have my best just when I'm waking up in the morning. Looking forward to reading The Outlaw Bride!


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