How Do You Come Up with Ideas for a Novel?

When you introduce yourself as an author, the second question you’ll probably hear most often, after the inevitable “are you self-published?” is “how do you come up with ideas for your novel?”. Setting aside the first question for now, my response is how do I not come up with ideas for my next novel?
           
For those of us who are cursed with an overactive imagination, stories, characters, plots and themes exist in every second of every minute of each and every day. Take a walk on the beach on a beautiful sunny California day and stop, along with many others, to watch the surfers ride and get wiped out on the waves. While there have been hundreds of stories about the surfing world, what I noticed was the one guy, slightly balding, looked like was maybe 45 or 50 in a solid black wet suit, surf board by his side, doing stretches before joining the younger crowd.

I began to think of story of an aging baby boomer who, in his day, was king of the beach, and now could only gaze at his passing youth riding the waves he could only remember. Perhaps he was still king of the surf, I didn’t see him get into the water. Perhaps he was contemplating hitting the water and showing everyone how it was done. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Sitting outside a Paris café with my daughter watching a very odd elderly woman as she drank coffee and lit a cigarette talking to herself in French and English and some landguage neither of us understood. I told my daughter that the woman had been a spy for the French during World War II and was captured and tortured by the Nazi’s, so her mind was gone. Or, perhaps her mind was perfectly fine and she was only pretending to be a bit crazy because she was still working as a spy and it was the perfect disguise. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

There are only a small handful of plots; Romance, boy meets girls, boy loses girl, boy finds girls again and they live happily ever after. Of course nowadays it could be boy meets boy, or girl meets girl, but the idea remains the same. Murder mysteries; someone dies, one or several find out who done it, etc. And while the number of core ideas may be recycled over and over ad nauseam, what follows , it the writer has even a smidgeon of imagination,  can introduce take readers to characters they want to know and care about and travel to worlds that are, literally, beyond their wildest imagination.

Every story begins with one question; what if? Where it goes from there, and how that story is told is what makes this work, if one would call it work, the best job there ever is. W

Which just gave me an idea for a story of a writer who….

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