Where writers find inspiration for stories

As a short story writer, I know that anything can be the source of inspiration for a short story. I especially like scanning the news, paying attention to people’s conversations, and watching how others behave. Writers are giant sponges when it comes to observing others, their world and themselves and then storing it all up until it can come out in a story.

For example, a few years ago there was a severe outbreak of red tide in Maine. Right around that same time, there was a news story from Europe about a conductor and his wife who committed legal suicide. Now, for most people, these two things would never be related. But for reasons even I don’t understand, a clanging bell went off inside me around this time and demanded a write a story about a man who euthanizes his wife, and the way he does it is with toxic shellfish during a red tide outbreak. (My story is titled: RED TIDE.)

The great thing about a short story is that the form is flexible enough to accomodate a large or small subject and condense it into a few hundred, or a few thousand words. People have responded very well to that story, some have even said it made them cry, and to achieve that in under 1000 words makes me happy.

But back to the topic at hand – inspiration. I’m sure you do things everyday that can fuel your story-telling. Did you get a snarky barista at the coffee shop this morning? Put him in a story and torment the character.  Did you read a wierd news item and think, that’s just about the strangest thing I’ve ever heard? Jot it down in an idea notebook, let it bounce around in your head for a while.

Then, when your clanging bell goes off-and it will-start writing.

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4 Responses

  1. You appear new to be a newbie blogger – so am I! Although you have obviously been writing much longer than my 3 days! I enjoyed your short stories – it is a genre I am not familiar with but now intrigues me. Good luck!

  2. […] the case of Red Tide, (a piece I’ve already written about on the Blog in a posting called Where Writers Find Inspiration for Stories,) I took two news items and crafted a story using elements of both as ingredients. It was the first […]

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