Got Ideas?

Where do you get your ideas?

I bet every writer is asked this question – often by aspiring writers.

And the answer invariably is…wait for it…wait for it…”Everywhere.” Or something like that.

On his website, Stephen King says “I get my ideas from everywhere.”

This master of the macabre goes further, however: “But what all of my ideas boil down to is seeing maybe one thing, but in a lot of cases it’s seeing two things and having them come together in some new and interesting way, and then adding the question ‘What if?’ ‘What if’ is always the key question.”

So try this…

I’m walking down the street and stumble over a crack in the sidewalk. Off balance and out of control, I’m flung…

  1. into a lamppost, awakening in the hospital with no recollection of who I am or where I came from. Then, suddenly…
  2. into the street, where I lie bleeding on the tarmac. Cars careen to a halt, horns blare, people gather around – but no one comes to my aid. Then, suddenly…
  3. into the arms of (a) George Clooney, (b) a ragged man, smelling of cheap wine and overripe dumpsters, (c) the President of the United States (before I’m surrounded by the Secret Service, who whisk me off to an underground bunker where I’m accused of trying to assassinate the leader of the Western world), or (d) Pennywise (King’s sewer-dwelling clown from It – one of his creepiest villains ever). Then, suddenly…
  4. into a vast nothingness, floating downward into…

You get it. Story ideas can come from almost nothing, from the merest of actions (or in-actions), from a chance encounter, or the whisper of a dream.

The key is to pick the option that is most enticing to you (and, by extension, your readers). From among the thousands of twists and turns your mind can take – thousands – which one fascinates the most? Which one becomes the drug you can’t let go? Which one sparks every “what if” question you can think of?

Grab hold of a thought. Then take a ride on the “What If” train…you won’t be sorry.

About Lori Hart Beninger

Lori Hart Beninger is a native California writer with three critically acclaimed historical novels (Embracing the Elephant, A Veil of Fog and Flames, and A Peculiar Peace) that follow two 19th century young adults as they struggle with survival and acceptance in the pivotal era of the California Gold Rush up to the American Civil War. Please visit for synopses, availability, reviews, and more.
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