Search This Blog

Monday, January 12, 2015


One question every author will be asked at some point is where we get the ideas for our stories. Creative folks have prodigious imaginations, so ideas are, literally, everywhere. We can hear a snippet of a conversation that will generate a scene, see a picture of historical dress and imagine our heroine in it, pick up a replica revolver and know it’s exactly what our hero would have in his holster.

And, sometimes, ideas come from you, our readers. I received an email last week in which the reader described a gunsmith shop in the very early 1800s St. Louis and the long-barreled muzzle-loading “Plains” rifle that was made there for settlers heading west.

Now, my very active imagination immediately started crafting scenes, characters, stories… And I can hardly wait to begin researching the weapon.
So, you see, ideas really do come from everywhere. That’s part of what makes my job so much fun!

Happy reading!



  1. Good Morning Tracy. Yes indeed we are a strange bunch. One of my ideas came from visiting a website with mansions for sale on it. There was a beautiful Italian villa on the site built back in the 1880's. From that little bit of info came my story Grandview. (yet to be finished and published.) Best wishes on the story brewing in your mind about the Plains rifle.

  2. And to you with Grandview, Barb!

  3. I wrote (but have not pursued publishing) a family saga that begins in 1876 and ends in 1894, and the idea for it came from seeing a poster in a Red Robin restaurant in Spokane, Washington. The poster was of a couple who were traveling in separate, but parallel taxis in a big city. They were sharing a goodbye kiss (well, that's how I interpreted it). From that image spawned an entire historical family saga. The taxis became Hansom cabs. I wrote the *taxi* scene, then went back and wrote up to it and then on past. (Over at the Western Fictioneers blog, Cheryl explained how she did the same thing in a story.)

    A catchy phrase, a snippet of dialogue... those are good idea-instigators, too.

    I love the anecdote about J.R.R. Tolkien saying the idea for The Hobbit came from being tire of grading exams, and he opened up the next one to find a blank paper. For some reason, he scribbled on that blank sheet, "in a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit."

    As they say, mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

    All it takes is that spark of idea...

  4. So true. Just walking out my front door can do it. (That's where my haiku come from). My current two stories are a result of history research and the area I live in. Love it.

    Can't wait to see what happens in the 'rifle' story. Doris

    1. Doris, I can fall down the rabbit hole (i.e. research) so easily. I have a large file of story ideas that came from tidbits discovered during research.

  5. Tracy, it's so amazing how our ideas come to us. I love hearing from readers, too--there are so many ideas that other people have--it's amazing to think of all the different thoughts and "sparks" of ideas out there that we, ourselves, might never have thought of--but once they're told to us, we take off running with them, and can't get them out of our minds. LOL

    Can't wait to see what happens with this gun idea of yours! It's sure to be a winner.

  6. I have heard that question posed to me. The world is ripe with story ideas. They're everywhere. I carry a pocket journal with me at all times when I'm out and about to write down things I see or here that might spark a story idea. It's fun having a lively imagination.
    Great idea for a series with that gun smith shop. All kinds of customers might come to that shop with special requests and a story to tell.