I’ve heard people ask writers where they get their story ideas, and I smile. The easy answer: Everywhere. But the complicated answer for me is that my story ideas come from a lifetime mixture of love, laughter and loss sparked by one of my senses.
For example, the idea for my short story in the book, By My Side, was inspired by a photograph in the local newspaper. It was a photo of children taking part in the annual treasure hunt at Lake Alma.
The photo brewed in my thoughts and mixed with my experiences, and I named the lake in my story after a friend from 30+ years ago. I remember when I was writing the story; I wavered between keeping the original name for the lake or choosing another name. But a fun part of writing; is the writer chooses the names used.
Choosing the names of my characters is easy. I use a telephone book and flip open the book to the white pages. I’ll slide my forefinger down the page until I find the name I last I used in a story. Then, the next name is my new character’s name.
Using my method, my male character’s first name for the story, “Buried Treasure,” was going to be David.
Totally unplanned, but the combination of the name, the photo and my experience, produced the story idea.
“Buried Treasure” is fictional. But the character David is based on an actual person. David has appeared in other stories. He’s looked different in each one of those stories, because his current appearance is unknown to me. He moved to Tennessee when I was five years old.
Although over fifty years ago, I remember the ache in my heart as I watched my David waving out the car’s back window. I waved until the car turned the corner and he disappeared from my life forever.
He’s gone from my life, but never from my heart.