Author Tony Talbot joins us today with a guest post on where writing ideas come from…
It’s a common enough question, and one I think every writer probably has a half-different answer to. Some of them say from their own life experiences, some of them say from dreams or something they’ve seen or heard that sticks.
For me, it’s anything and everything I see, and most of the stuff that I dream. There’s a school of thought that says everything a writer sees never leaves their heads, but sits in there, waiting to bounce off something else. I like to think of it as my own solar system, the important stuff close to the star…and out beyond where the heat and the life is…ahh, that’s the good stuff.
There are comets out there, innocuous balls of ice and rock, dark against infinity. But give them a nudge, and they hurtle towards the planets, sometimes leaving a trail across the sky of my imagination. Sometimes they hit things. Wipe out whole continents, reshape whole planets and civilisations. Sometimes you think they’re going to smash into a planet only burn up in the atmosphere.
Here’s an example of one of those comets, one that left a bright streak but didn’t do much damage:
A month or two ago, I was eating in McDonalds with my wife on a Friday night, and sitting at the other end of this very noisy and busy restaurant was a woman at a table for two. Nothing very odd or spectacular about that, you would think, but she was wearing a wedding ring, and she was alone on a Friday night eating in a cheap restaurant.
Instantly, the questions about her started in my head: Who was she? Where were her husband and family (if she had one)? Why was she alone on a Friday night?
By the time I got home, the woman had stuck, and I managed to get a decent story out of her. Not bad for someone I never spoke to. And one of the pleasures of writing is this: Give this little snapshot to a dozen writers and they’ll come up with a different answer. That woman gave my little writing group a surprise party mistaken for an affair, a ghost story and a secret daughter. Just from a woman sitting alone at a table in McDonalds.
So next time you’re out walking somewhere, when you glance at something, glance again. You’ll never know when an image will stick and what you’ll do with it. Take that image and nudge some comets. Maybe blow out some continents.
You know, just for fun.
About the Author: Tony Talbot was born in the 1970s and started writing in 2008 after a dream he had and couldn’t shake. American Girl was his third book, and he’s currently editing his next book and planning the book after, tentatively called, ‘Dome’.
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