In today’s guest post, I have the immense pleasure of welcoming author Bea Cannon to Marcia’s Book Talk. Bea, author of the BOUCHER’S WORLD series of science fiction books, the CADY AND SAM paranormal series, and SPACESHIPS AND MAGIC fantasy series, discusses six ways which provided inspiration in writing her books, and how these can be helpful for writers to explore. Now, over to Bea for more about this compelling topic…
Six Ways of Sparking Ideas by Bea Cannon
I write science fiction and fantasy – sometimes a combination of both in the form of scifantasy – and the occasional short horror story. The first time I was asked from where I got ideas, I’d never really thought about it. I would just get one and off I’d go writing.
I guess I kind of figured I was pulling them out of thin air. Until I stopped to think about it. Then I had an epiphany: ideas didn’t just hit me up side my head from out of nowhere. Nope. They all had a source, something that sparked it. A beginning.
After a little reflection, I’ve come up with some of the bases for my story ideas (these are, by no means, all sources, but these have played a role in getting me started on a quite a few).
And it can be just a snippet. The first book I wrote, “Boucher’s World: Emergent”, (science fiction dealing with the interactions between a group of humans, cats, dogs, and a race of giant aliens, all with psychic abilities and trapped together for two thousand years) came about because of a dream.
What was the dream? Well, it was about a girl, or young woman, who worked for a pest company, and her partner was a cat. They lived in a city covered by a dome. That was it (don’t ask me why I’d dream something like that! I’ve had even stranger ones!). The rest of the story sort of worked its way from there.
It was actually supposed to be one book but by the time I got through I had a whole series, which consists of a trilogy, a novel, two novellas, two novelettes, and a short story (not to mention I’m currently writing two more stories in the series, sequels to the trilogy) and it’s a series because as I wrote, I realized it was becoming way too long for one book.
Everyday life, especially recent or current events, is always good fodder for a nice yarn. I’ve written a number of drabbles (a story written in exactly one hundred words), and some are based on an actual event, such as “Once Upon a Spider”, taken from an encounter with an orb weaver by one of my daughters. Or the time I opened my washing machine and found I’d forgotten to check my jean pockets, resulting in another drabble, “Tatters”.
For a while, I entered in a short story writing contest where the five-hundred-word-or-less story has to be written around a given image. It was quite an enjoyable exercise (only won once, a second place win, “A Moment in Time” but it was fun doing them). And, you don’t have to enter a contest to use visual prompts, any image will do. Believe it or not, I actually got the idea for my “Cady and Sam” werewolf series from seeing a picture of my house juxtaposed with one of a large dog.
The drabble, “Noise”, is based on the fact that I have tinnitus, though I suppose it could also be considered a life event.
The drabble, “Martin’s Café”, came about from the delicious smell of bacon wafting up to my room one morning when my daughter was cooking breakfast (‘nuff said!).
(Which could also be considered a life event but I kind of separate the two when the event was a very long time ago.) In the case of the series on which I’m currently working, “Spaceships and Magic”, the idea came from a memory. No, I don’t remember having been a dragon (wouldn’t it be really cool if I did?), but I’ve found that sometimes a little of myself gets into my stories.
When I was around three years old, I had a bad case of eczema and spent some time looking as though I was covered in scales. There was also a time when I felt alienated from everyone, and I ran away from home when I was twelve (hmm…someday I might get around to writing my autobiography…nah, writing fiction is much more fun!). Anyway, from those memories came the idea of “Turner: Bitter Change”, the story of Juri Turner, the human-born dragon. At the moment I’m working on book three (with notes for a fourth).
The thing is, story ideas can come from anywhere and these are six examples of where some of mine came from. Always try to keep a pencil and paper handy (but don’t do it on a napkin and put it in your pocket and then forget to check before you throw your pants in the wash!). That way, when an idea hauls off and slaps you in the face, you’ll be ready. Believe me, there’s nothing sadder – or more frustrating – than knowing you had a brilliant idea for a story but now you can’t remember it and you didn’t jot it down.
They don’t always pan out (okay, so sometimes it’s a really bad idea) but all the same, it doesn’t hurt to write it down.
Just in case.
*Links to Bea