Archive for December, 2011


Where Ideas Come From

Copyright 2011 by Sherry Garland

One of the most popular questions asked by students is: “Where do you get your ideas?”  For some reason most people think that getting an idea is the most difficult part of being an author.  In fact, that is the easiest part.  Ideas are everywhere — everything you see, do, hear, read about, watch on TV — all these are sources for fiction. 

I get many of my ideas from real events that happened in the news.  For example, I was inspired to write SHADOW OF THE DRAGON, because a Vietnamese teenager was killed by a gang of skinheads in Houston.  I wrote LETTERS FROM THE MOUNTAIN after reading a news story about a teenager who died after “huffing” paint thinner. And, a good many of my books are inspired by historical events.                                                                                                        

Many authors use events from their own lives to create scenes.  I have worked events into all my novels that originated from my own childhood or teen years.  For example, in my chapter book, BEST HORSE ON THE FORCE, the main character is visiting his grandparents’ farm.  While picking blackberries for a blackberry cobbler, he tricks his sister by pretending to see a snake in the berry vines.  My older brothers used to do that to me when we picked blackberries at our grandparents’ farm.  My fear of snakes in vines and buses never subsided over the years.

Most authors keep an idea folder or drawer.  Every time they get an idea, they jot it down and file it away. I keep pencils and notebooks in the TV room and on the nightstand, in case one of those ideas hits me out of the blue. When I have finished a project and need to start another one, the magical idea folder is waiting.  These ideas are like seeds.  Some will never get planted at all; some will be planted but will wither away and die; others will grow and blossom into a full blown work of fiction, whether it be picture book or novel.

So don’t worry about where the ideas will come from.  Most authors have many more ideas than they will ever have the time to develop.

As we say goodbye to 2011,  may everyone have a creative, productive 2012 with lots of stories and lots of sales!!



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