Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Finding Story Ideas

Writing is all about the revising. Any writer will tell you that. Writers spend way more time revising than writing. Or at least I do--and from conversations with other people I know I'm not alone.

But sometimes you have to write something new. If you didn't how would you have something to revise?

And this week, when I finished a set of revisions on my latest WIP I knew it was time to step back and do something else. I had several other projects in various stages of revision, but I wanted something new. I needed to get those creative juices flowing.

Now the trend in YA seems to be paranormal and dystopian. Lots of fantastic books are being written and sold and read in those genres. So I decided, if that's what's working for everyone, I think I'll write a historical fiction. (I'm a rebel that way)

But since one can't simply head to the idea store to get a new story idea, I had to look someplace else.

So I looked to family history.

And there's one story that always intrigued me. My great-great-great-uncle got married, had three children and then got divorced. The children ended up in an orphanage and were apparently adopted out. No more is known - including ages or gender of children.

That gave me the germ of an idea.

What would it be like to be an orphan at the end of the 19th century?

But I wanted my story to be YA, so my protagonist was not likely to be a young child waiting for adoption.

But what if she were an older sister who was working as a maid in one of the fancy New York mansions in the late 1800s and her siblings are sent west on the Orphan Train. And she wants desperately to find them.

She'll do anything to find them, including offering herself as a mail order bride, so she can get out west.

Now I have a story idea.

And the creative juices are flowing.

How do you get your new story ideas? Where do you pluck them from?


  1. Ooh, on your new story idea! Sounds very intriguing!
    I've been thinking about doing a story based on my own family history. The love story of my great-grandfather Consoli and his Mexican wife has always fascinated me. They even went to the Sonora mountains in Mexico to look for rumored 'buried' gold.

    Good luck on your new story! Don't you love it when a new story idea excites you?

  2. Kim,
    It's great to be excited by a new story! Your idea sounds intriguing as well!

  3. I love writing historical stories, especially about family histoy. Funny you should mention the Orphan Trains. My mother rode an Orphan Train (though they weren't callet this back then) from Brooklyn to Texas. I recently sold a MG story loosely based on her life. There is a lot I don't know about her. I have a whole library of books about the trains, both fiction and nonfiction. The stories of these children are fascinating and sometimes sad.

    Best of luck to you with your story. Sounds intriguing.

  4. Like your idea for the historical. My ideas seem to come from everywhere and nowhere. I'm funny in that I must finish what I'm working on before I begin something new. I jot the ideas down as they come and once a project is finished I usually know which characters are pushing to get out.