Happy Tuesday, Reader Friends!
Thanks for joining me this week. Donna Schlachter is taking over for this Tuesday’s blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee) and chat with her!
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
A Nugget of a Kernel of a Story
When I tell folks that I am a novelist, one of their first questions is “where do you get your ideas?” I’m not sure if they ask that because they’re trying to gauge whether their idea for a story is as good as—or, more likely, better than—mine, or if they think they live a life so boring that nobody would ever want to read about it.
Whatever the reason, I tell them the truth: I have so many ideas floating in my head at any given time that I won’t live long enough to get them all written. And that I get my ideas by looking at people around me and asking questions. Like that woman in the corner, arguing with somebody on her cell phone? Is she standing up for herself to a man who would strike her if they were in the same room? Or is she the abuser? Or maybe she’s been treated badly by Customer Service at a local store and is complaining to the manager? Or spinning a yarn to the IRS?
See, that’s four different characters, and potentially, four different books right there.
I also read magazines and newspapers. I really like local papers in small towns. They publish some of the funniest stories. Like the one about the bank robbers who wore sheer panty hose for masks, and were identified in about two minutes. One of the clerks even knew one of the robbers. Or how about the guys who held up a gas station in a small town and, for their getaway car, drove an old black sedan with red doors. How many of them in town, do you think?
I like pictures. And I like looking at pictures and making up a new caption for them. Like the one I have from a magazine that shows John McEnroe, the famous tennis player, standing at a table in a restaurant. If, in my story, nobody recognizes him, could he poison the wine of the woman seated to his right, and get away with it? It happened in an Agatha Christie book.
Another time I saw a picture in a newspaper of the detective in Dallas who escorted Lee Harvey Oswald from court when Jack Ruby shot him. That one triggered an idea for a yet-unpublished novel, Counterfeit Honor.
One of the best places to find ideas for books is in Scripture. And I don’t mean simply a modern-day retelling of a Biblical story, although those work, too. How about a character who is so unhappy with her life that she looks for people who are worse off than she is, and steals from them? Shades of the parable Nathan the prophet used on King David when he stole Bathsheba. Or what about someone so evil that one of his victims blasted him to smithereens while he was on the toilet? Ehud killed Eglon while he was “attending to his needs” (Judges 3:22).
We can find stories and characters all around us—because we are surrounded by stories and people. Just ask someone to tell you their story, and you’ll have enough material for an entire series. So watch, listen, and ask questions—you might even make friends with some of your research subjects.
Question: What is your favorite funny or strange newspaper story?
One randomly-drawn reader will win a free print copy of Mail-Order Brides Romance Collection (US only). To enter leave a comment by 6/18/18 11:59pm EDT for a chance to win. I will use a random generator to pick a winner on 6/19/18 (be sure to come back and check if you won).
*Giveaway Policy here.
About the Author
Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a critique group, and teaches writing classes. Donna ghostwrites and edits, and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.
About the Book
About A Train Ride to Heartbreak in the “Mail-Order Brides Romance Collection”:
John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love.