Sep 6, 2008


About once a week I see the question (in one form or another) posted on the writing forum I frequent: Where do ideas for stories come from? Is it wrong for the first thought to pop into my head to be: If you have to ask, do you really think writing is for you?

The idea for Driving Into Forever came to me when I was driving on the 401 to Kingston on a very foggy morning. There weren’t a lot of cars on the road and my mind started to wander. I started to "what if" about the fog and by the time I got to my destination I had the bare bones of the story worked out in my head.

I was three quarters of the way through the first draft when two of the minor characters thought they should hook up for a sequel. Since I was getting bogged down in the first one I thought, why not. Then halfway through their story the father of one of the main characters of DIF thought his story should be told. Then the brother of the same main character didn’t want to be left out. Enough already! I’ll fix him. The character of a woman came to me who’d be perfect in this story. She’s not going to make it easy for him either, it’ll serve him right.

I have never lacked for ideas. They just pop into my head. Some fully formed, some just snippets of scenes or characters. But not every idea is a good idea. In the beginning I would fall in love with an idea and start from there. This lead to a lot of partially written stories and novels that got off to a great start, and then just fizzled out.

While some writers can take an idea and just run with it, I have discovered that, for me at least, I have to know where the story’s going. Most of the time I’ll just keep going over the idea in my head until I’m satisfied with the ending. Sometimes I use a detailed outline, sometimes it’s just a sketchy, point form list of what I want to happen.

I write down all my ideas, both good and bad, in notebooks or on scraps of paper that end up scattered all over the house. You never know what might be "what iff-ed" into a keeper.

But until I know how it ends, I can’t begin.

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