Where Do Ideas Come From?

This seems to be one of the more popular questions we writers get.  And yet, I’m always surprised.

My problem has never been ideas, it’s been time.  I want to live a long, long time (duh–don’t we all?) and partly because I have too many stories to write.  So my recent brain freeze while waiting to hear on DOTT and BOAA is EXTREMELY unusual for me.  No worries, tho–I have no doubt it will go away and I’ll get back to burying myself in my stories.  I’m really ALIVE when I write. 

Offhand, I’m going through an entirely new set of emotions with being so VERY CLOSE to realizing a long term dream.  The surge of ups and downs is pretty intense.  I thought the wait on magazine stories or agent replies was difficult, but this is something else.  I think maybe if my payjob used more of my brain, it would be easier–but no, it’s this monotonous drone of click, move and type.  My mind is entirely too free to wander.

But I have stopped racing to the phone when it rings.  😉

But back on topic.  (See?  I’m useless these days.  <g> )


My ideas come from EVERYWHERE.  An overheard snippet from a casual conversation.  Two squirrels ripping each other to shreds outside my office window.  (Seriously, it was brutal.  I couldn’t help but wonder if something in their food had sparked the violence… )  As most of my long term readers know, I’m very visual and love nothing more than an excellent piece of art or a photograph.  And sometimes, the idea that sparks has little to do with what the artist was trying to portray.

I’ve been saving some images that sparked ideas.  Let’s see if they do anything for you.  Share if anything stirs!!!!

Not only did this crack me up, but I thought of a wonderful action scene with lots of humor.  Can you see it?


 Yes, they obviously built around the stunning trees–but what if there was a more sinister reason???


Funny yes, but this image sparked a very serious scene about the consequences of using magic.  It’s only an outline at this point, but I’m really looking forward to getting to that section of the manuscript. 

I’m always drawn to amber.  The color fascinates me.  This image sparked an idea I can’t share since it’s in my current WIP, but it has a lot to do with guardians of the forest.  That’s all I’m saying.

Breathing yet?  Go ahead and look at it again.  I get it.  This image is from my Gena file.  Yes, I find the male body absolutely beautiful and I’ve been a heavy contributor to Gena Showalter’s Monday pics.  She refers to me often as beefcake pimp.  <wg>  But this particular image sparked a gritty and uh, slippery scene.  What started out as sexy, turned heavy and emotional and I can’t wait for my CP’s reaction when she gets to it.  And that scene is a ways off for her.  Sorry Rachel. 😉

And since I don’t want to use one of her images directly, I’ll direct you to Natalie Shau.  One of her pieces, which unfortunately isn’t on this website any longer, sparked an answer to a problem that was driving me nuts.  I needed something good for my depiction of a certain dimensional plane.  I found it in one of her images.  It’s for book three of my urban fantasy series.  Honestly, ideas flow every single time I look at her work, but this was the kind of flash that raises the hair on your arms and twists up the gut. 

Those are the ones you KNOW are good.  I live for those moments.

Ms. Shau will probably get a mention in the acknowledgments in that third book. 😉 

(And don’t forget, I’m working to help my favorite science fiction and horror magazine–giving away cool prizes to those who subscribe!  Drawing is Sunday.  Details below!)


About Rinda Elliott

Writer.I love unusual stories and credit growing up in a family of curious life-lovers who moved all over the country. Books and movies full of fantasy, science fiction and romance kept us amused, especially in some of the stranger places. For years, I tried to separate my darker side with my humorous and romantic one. I published short fiction, but things really started happening when I gave in and mixed it up. When not lost in fiction, I love making wine, collecting music, gaming and spending time with my husband and two children. I’m represented by Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Agency.
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4 Responses to Where Do Ideas Come From?

  1. Carol Shenold says:

    If 17 remain dead, how many didn’t remain dead and what did they do instead? Inquiring minds. What kind of spree do you have at a morgue anyway.

  2. Laura says:

    I draw a lot of inspiration from images as well. Flickr has been a dear friend to my short stories. It’s amazing the narratives just one story can tell.

    Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of film ideas from songs, too. The short I just finished was prompted partially by the Rasputina song, “Gingerbread Coffin,” and I’m currently developing a project inspired by Tori Amos’ “Mother.”

  3. relliott4 says:

    Songs work for me as well. 🙂

    Carol, maybe a practice spree? LOL

  4. X. Dell says:

    I agree. Time is so short, and I’m behind on everything. I feel that I was put here to complete a certain amount of tasks. By my calculation, I won’t be able to die until I’m 169, unless I get a move on.

    Your previous photo essay excercises seem to tell me that you think very visually, which is probably good for a writer. I think aurally, which is good for a musician. So perhaps it’s best that I chose the latter and not the former.

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