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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Story Ideas - Where do they come from?

As a writer, the question I get asked the most is ‘Where do you get your ideas?’. The answer to this question is very simple. It is also a bit complicated. Confused? Hang in there, I’ll clarify.

Story ideas come to me all the time, from lots of different places. Sometimes it is as simple as a line in a song sparking my imagination. Usually a line of dialogue comes to me first. From there, I begin to imagine just who said it, the hero or the heroine. Or maybe it’s something the villain says. I begin to see the scene unfold. (Yes, as odd as it sounds, my stories come to me like movies in my head.) I have written an entire book around one particular scene.

In fact, this is how After Midnight came to me, as the opening scene—a woman, alone in a bar after closing time, playing the piano.

That’s it. That’s all I had. From there I had to figure out who the hero and heroine were. Why is the heroine sitting in a darkened bar playing a piano? What drew her to play again after years of silence? And finally, how does the hero fit into this picture?

However, not every story idea starts with a line of dialogue. Sometimes it begins with a question. For Not Without Risk, it was this question:

What if a killer set his sights on you and the only way to survive was to revisit a past you swore never to look back on?

For me, story ideas that come to me in the form of a question are easier to flesh out than those where I ‘see’ the scene in my head or that begin with a line of dialogue. Why? Because when I have one question, it’s simple to come up with a second question:

What if you then had to trust the type of man experience told you was untrustworthy?

Then, a third:

What if you fell in love with that man, is love worth the risk?

by Sarah Grimm

PG-13 Excerpt

"Ms. Grimm takes readers on an amazing journey, a trip where her wonderful talents as a storyteller bring the tale to life." — BEST BOOK, Long and Short Reviews

Her hand reached out for him, settled lightly against his left side, just below his sidearm. "What about you, Justin? Do you know, too? Is that what happened to you?"

Her words splintered through him. He swore softly and stepped back, forcing her to drop her hand. "That doesn't matter now."

"I think it does," she persisted, her eyes dark and churning with emotion. "I think it matters a great deal."

What could he say to her that wouldn't add to the fear already churning through her? "Paige, please," he said, attempting to turn the conversation around. "We need to discuss getting you out of here."

"I'm not leaving. I won't be driven from my own home."

"You shouldn't be alone."

She lifted her chin, determined to show him strength even while her hands shook. "I'll be fine."

Frustration wound deeper. He rolled his shoulder where his muscles knotted painfully. "Listen to me-"

"You aren't going to tell me are you?"

Justin set his jaw.

"Why not?"

Because she mattered to him. Because the truth about what happened to him six months ago would hurt her, push her away and he didn't want that. Not when he ached to draw her back into his arms, ached to have the sweet, potent taste of her swimming through his system again.

Too late he realized his silence had the same effect on her. Already, her eyes were going cold and distant as she pulled her emotions tightly under control. Only this time, it wasn't fear she wanted to keep at bay, but him.

The knowledge stung. It didn't matter that by distancing herself from him - emotionally and physically - she was probably doing him a favor. He'd already spent enough time thinking of her when he should have been concentrating on his job. Recalling the scent of her, the feeling of rightness that filled him when he held her in his arms. When he was supposed to be reestablishing his place in the department.

He needed to remember that any further involvement with her would be a colossal mistake. That he couldn't afford the distraction Paige Conroy represented.
Still, the ache in his chest as she withdrew even further took him by surprise.

"Tempting as your offer is," she said quietly, as she eased across the room. "I won't go home with you. I can't sleep with you, Justin. You say it doesn't have to be that way, but you and I both know that's the way it would be." Her arms slid around her middle. Her gaze met his. "You're a risk I can't afford to take."


Mara said...

Hi, Sarah:
Great excerpt! I definitely want to read more!
marajbrandon AT earthlink DOT net

Robin said...

It really is an intriguing excerpt! I also want to know what happens!

Robin D
robindpdx (at) yahoo (dot) com

Anonymous said...

Not Without Risk sounds like my kind of story. I love romantic suspense with danger lurking around every corner.

User1123 AT comcast DOT net

Na said...

Inspiration really does come from everywhere and I like that so many of them have turned into such great stories. I like to have a notepad and pen nearby for moments when ideas or just thoughts pop into my head. I wouldn't want to lose them.