Today I warmly welcome author Jan Romes again to Marcia’s Book Talk for a guest post. Jan will be discussing how she arrives at ideas for her books, which is a fascinating process indeed, and something all writers have a different take on, making this an endlessly fruitful topic. For more about this, I will now let Jan elaborate upon the details in her great essay below…
Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
by Jan Romes
Recently, a relative tried to pin me down with this particular question. I grinned and said, “Ideas just pop in.” That answer wasn’t sufficient. She wanted more. ‘No, really. Where do you get them?’ As we rode around the campground on the golf cart, I explained more in-depth. (Her inquiry prompted this post.)
So here goes…
A hundred people can stare at an abstract painting and try to decide what the artist was trying to convey. Each person looking at it will most likely offer a different suggestion. Writers are kind of like that. We can look at a painting and form an opinion, which can morph into an idea for a story. The same thing can happen when we read a poem or newspaper article. All of us get a visual from something we see or hear, but writers take it one step further and add words to the mental picture.
My relative still couldn’t wrap her head around the notion stories come to me so easily. As we sipped on drinks and took in the sights and sounds of the campground, I told her a story was coming together at that very moment, which involved witness protection. She swiveled her body to look me in the eye. ‘You mean to tell me that riding around on the golf cart prompted a story about witness protection?’
And so it goes. I’m currently writing that story.
Another question she needed an answer to was, ‘How can you write about a fashion designer or an OB/GYN, when you have little knowledge of those careers?’ My response, “Ideas are easy; research not so much. Character and plot development are more difficult as well.”
In our conversation, I gave other examples of where stories can be spawned from: unusual architecture, a new place I’ve visited, revisiting a place from the past, a dream that won’t let me alone, a person I’ve seen in the park, a person I’ve seen while shopping, the atmosphere in a restaurant – the list is endless and the opportunities to write about them are great.
At the end of our talk, she shook her head with a smile. ‘I still don’t understand, but I’ll take your word for it.’
I’m passionate about writing and I love to talk about the process. I might befuddle you with my answers, but I’ll always try to explain things the best I can.
I’ll leave you with this quote by Anais Nin, ‘We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.’
Jan Romes links