Friday, March 14, 2014

Where Do Story Ideas Come From?

with guest Terri Weldon.

Wow, can you believe we are already fourteen days into Speedbo? Time flies when you’re busy writing, plotting, or revising like mad. I’m plugging away on a Christmas novella. 

    I want to take a quick moment to thank Tina for inviting me to be a guest blogger this month. While attempting to come up with a topic that would (hopefully) be of some value to everyone, I mentioned to my sister I would be back on Seekerville as a guest blogger and that my article had to be on craft. DISCLAIMER:  Sis has given me permission to post this publically. About the third time I mentioned craft, she looked at me and asked, “Why did you agree to do that? You know you aren’t crafty.” Sorry, but it made me laugh and she is so right. If Tina had wanted me to talk about a hobby craft, I would have had to decline. 

    Since my plan for Speedbo is to write a novella, I knew I had to come up with an idea for subject novella. Bingo, my topic for Seekerville popped into my mind. Where Do Story Ideas Come From? 

    There is the tried and true “What if?” You see a picture, catch a snippet of a conversation, or read a new story and think what if such and such happened. I think this is one of the most common ways writers come up with story ideas. I know I’ve used that approach. In a romantic suspense manuscript I recently finished, I came up with the idea while at the hair salon. Now the salon seems like the logical place to overhear some juicy conversations, but my idea came from a totally different direction. I looked at my nice, always in a good mood stylist, and thought what if he went off the deep end and decided to give someone their final cut. You know, as in kill them.

    In another instance I had the first line of a story pop into my head. The villain whispered in my ear, “Do you know where your daughter is, Mrs. Bradley?” Of course once he asked the question, I had to find the answer. At the time I didn’t even know who Mrs. Bradley was, but I did know her daughter had been kidnapped.

    While brainstorming my Christmas novella, Mistletoe Magic, published last November, available on Amazon (shameless self-promotion) I knew there were certain things that had to happen. Originally the idea was a collaborative effort for a novella collection. A Mistletoe Festival was a must. This was my first time brainstorming an entire story idea with a group of authors. I loved it. While it felt like the overall idea for the story just popped into my head, I know my creative mind was set in motion by all the discussion between the four of us. Still, there were certain parts of the story idea that had to be developed on my own. My heroine is a librarian and she had to have a major role in the festival. How could I make that unique? Librarian, books, reading. She would have a reading room at the festival. Now what would make kids want to read at a festival? Rudolph! So her part of the festival became Rudolph’s Reading Room. 

    The idea for my current novella was much harder to conceive. I asked plenty of what ifs and none of them worked. The story is a romantic comedy, so there was no devious villain to whisper opening lines into my ear, and my hair dresser gave me a great new style, but nothing about him sparked an idea for my Christmas story. Finally my heroine, Molly, stopped by for a visit. She is a church secretary, hopelessly in love with the pastor, and she wears cowboy boots all the time. The matriarchs of Winslow, Oklahoma have her convinced she will never be a suitable wife for the pastor.

    Now that may not be an entire story, and I apologize to all the plotters who are shuddering, but it was enough to get my mind going in the right direction, to make a commitment to write that novella during Speedbo.

    So how about you, how did you come up with your current story idea? I’d love to hear your ideas. Leave a comment for a chance to win a ten dollar Starbucks gift card. After all, during Speedbo we all need as much caffeine as possible!

 About Terri: Terri Weldon's debut Christmas Novella, Mistletoe Magic, released last November from White Rose Publishing, an imprint of Pelican Book Group. 

 She claims her regular life is really pretty mundane, but refrains from saying dull! Terri enjoys gardening, reading, playing in the hand bell choir, and shopping for shoes (a habit she really needs to break). She has three dogs – a lovable mutt and two adorable Westies. She volunteers as the librarian at her church – she actually gets to shop for books and spend someone else’s money. Plus, she is privileged to introduce people to Christian fiction.

Terri is a member of ACFW and RWA. Stop by and visit her at

About Mistletoe Magic: Mistletoe Joy (Misty) Winslow is determined to find her prince charming. She meets the man of her dreams through an internet dating service. Or is he? Because the new dentist in town sets her heart aflutter. 

It’s love at first sight for Tyler Davenport, but before he can finish his first root canal, Misty is involved in an exclusive online romance with Wes99. Tyler begins to get jealous of Wes99, his online persona! Soon he’s pulling out all the stops to woo Misty. 

As Christmas approaches Wes99 and Tyler both ask her to meet them under the Mistletoe. Which man will she choose?

Think it's too late to join Speedbo? THINK AGAIN! Details here.


Natalie Monk said...

Love your book blurb! I've never read a dentist hero. Love it!

And the whole online vs. in-person "You've Got Mail" kind of thing is just perfect! Putting it on the wishlist!

Um... I've got a thermos of locally roasted coconut coffee from High Point roasters to hold us just long enough until Helen gets here to brew a pot!

And I'm thinking Ruthy has some Snickerdoodles to share, too, but you didn't hear that from me. :)

Carol Moncado said...

Hm... Well this one is second in a series. I wrote #1 for NaNo 2011. I wrote #3 for SpeedBo 2013 (though not with the intent of it being #3, realized later it would fit with just a few tweaks).

So it needed to fit with those in theme, etc. It needed have a particular heroine. And years ago, I had the idea for a young [almost 21], naive heroine who has a certain idea of who her Prince Charming will be - and then gets something completely different. He's a decade older, her former soccer coach [NEVER anything even REMOTELY inappropriate back then], and widowed with a child.

But I needed it to have something to do with writing so instead of soccer coach, he became her drama camp counselor guy and a stand up comic at a local comedy club.

My tag and the moment...

She's too young. He's too old. And way too widowed.

So far, I'm loving them :D.

2600ish today for 34xxx total this month :).

Terri said...

Hey Natalie, that coffee sounds great. Now if we can just get Ruthy to hand over the Snickerdoodles!

And by the way Ruthy is a tough act to follow.

I'm so glad you like the dentist hero.

So tell me, how did you come up with your current story idea?

Terri said...

Wow Carol! Amazing stats. You are really Speedboing!

Love how this ended up being the second book in a three book series. And it sounds really interesting. I like the tag you've come up with. Would live to read it!

Carol Moncado said...

Thanks, Terri :)!

I'm still hopeful this series will sell [it hasn't been rejected by EVERYONE yet ;) and has had some major edits since the last (small) round]. But if not...

Well, there's always Ruthy's method of indie... :D

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome, Terri.

Like Natalie, I have never read a dentist hero.

Though, I will say, my hero in my next LI release is a pharmacist. Haven't read many of those either.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I love when those random ideas hit you.

I have a recipe box with index cards, all dated, with story ideas.

They include bits of newspapers and magazine articles.

So many stories. So little time.

Terri said...

Carol - I love the doors that indie has opened to everyone!

Tina - you are up late! I I think your pharmacist may be the first one I've heard about. I'm intrigued. When does it release?

You are more organized than me. That first picture with all the bits and pieces of paper and articles is my idea folder. Alas, none of my scribbles are dated.

Virginia Carmichael Munoz said...

I'm bringing over pecan pie macaroons from Tina's day in the café. No, that's not what she cooked, but that's what I'm eating!

Love this post! How fun! And all those tidbits sound like amazing starts to a story. Just... that picture of the scissors weirded me out. What was that, ketchup?? LOl.

And Tina has a recipe box of story ideas? Hm. I wonder if she locks her doors.

I'm not someone who gets tons of book ideas. I usually have to sit down and think really hard about it. And then I realize what I'm thinking has usually already been done. So then I start over.

I'm not really writing for Speedbo. I'm working on my YA series, final class with Franny Billingsley! Whooot! I love how this is shaping up! I'll always be a contemp romance writer at heart, but my kids requested this one, and fed me the details, so... here I am. Writing about fantastical creatures, magical assassins, and one too-sarcastic teen girl caught in a war between immortal families. Yeah, not something I would have come up with by myself.

Jackie said...

Caffeine is a must this month. I think your story sounds great.

A reality show planted the seed for my story, but I gave it a twist and a spiritual thread. Then my pastor preached on bitterness, and I was ready to write.

Terri, thanks for sharing with us.
A dentist will be a new profession for me to read about.

Tina, because we're told to write what we know, I usually have a pharmacy link. Although my WIP for Speedbo has not had a pharmacist.

Hope you all have a great day.

Mary Hicks said...

I think part of the fun of trying to write ( I say, 'trying to write' because I'm still learning! ) is the fun of finding story ideas in everything and everywhere!

Ideas pop into my head at least a dozen times a day. Last Sunday ( and I was paying attention, too! ) an idea came to me because of something the preacher said. I grabbed a visitors card and jotted a note to myself.

My purse holds a wealth of story ideas! :-)

Terri, thank you for a good and helpful post. Your life doesn't sound dull at all to me—with all those animals! Sounds like fun. :-)

Connie Queen said...

First of all, Terri, I love the boots!

I think most of my ideas are the "what if's". Since I'm not published, I don't if these are necessarily the best, but I enjoy them.

When my 4th child was a baby, we used to live in Midland, 360 miles away from my family. I used to load up the kids and make the trip while my husband stayed there and worked. There's a couple of long bridges on the way and I used to wonder what I'd do if my car went over the rail and into the water? Was it even possible to save 4 kids? In my Killer Voices entry, I'm going to answer that, but with only 2 kids. (It has to believable...)

Congrats on your debut!

DebH said...

love today's post. folks, you gotta read Terri's Mistletoe Magic, her hero is so swoon worthy. Getting warm fuzzies remembering. (shameless plug for her shameless plug *heh*)

my current WIP idea popped into my mind from reading thread comments in the Killer Voice search at eHarl. what has some suspense already there? scuba diving. when you think diving, you think sunken treasure... florida has a Treasure Coast from a 1715 hurricane destroying a Spanish fleet carrying New World gold back to Spain.

now, add a dive trip i had with some research scientists collecting cone snail specimens for medical research... (cone snails have venom for capturing prey that can be deadly to even humans - but same venom has medicinal value)

bing! marine bio student on research dive trip accidentally comes across illegal treasure hunters. coast guard investigator gets involved when dead bodies pop up. um, still sorta fleshing things out.

i get ideas from news clippings all the time. i've got a clipping file on my laptop for holding the ones that *boing* (my toddler's term) my interest.

love seeing how others get their ideas.

DebH said...

low word count night last night - only 250 words... but i did get a little done before the little guy insisted on his mommy-time.

Karen Kirst said...

Hi Terri! I want to read your pastor/secretary romance now. That's so unique. Your Mistletoe Magic looks great, too. I don't recall reading about a dentist hero.
I'm not taking part in SpeedBo since I'm working on a deadline. But as for ideas, sometimes I'm inspired by songs and music videos. Other times I look at classic romance hooks and try to weave stories around those.

Sherri Shackelford said...

The book blurb sounds wonderful! I am doing the country boy/city girl thing for my next release. Always a fun trope. I've got a suffragette and a nice country veterinarian. (Yes, they had vets back in the olden days ;)

Janet Dean said...

Hi Terri. Welcome to Seekerville post side! Fun to see your creative mind at work.

I've gotten story ideas from historical tidbits or situations that intrigue me and make me ask "What if?" Once like you, I got a line of dialogue that jump started a story. I believe those lines are gifts from God.

Mistletoe Magic sounds like great fun!


Jeanne T said...

Very fun post, Terri. So it sounds like we just need to be looking and listening and have our minds free enough to see story ideas. :)

My current story idea came from a time when I felt invisible. And hated it. My heroine in the book I'm about to begin doesn't want to be invisible anymore. Another story idea came as a friend told me about a possible sudden move to another country. That got my mind whirring.

Another character began to form in my mind after seeing a very masculine truck with a bumper sticker that said something to the effect of: "My pug is smarter than your honor student." And I thought, "What if a woman drove a truck like this?"

I haven't written either of these last two stories yet, but I plan to. :)

Loved hearing where and how your stories have come to life.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Terri Weldon!!!! So nice to have you chatting it up over here!!!!

Story ideas... I love 'em. And Terri, your "what if?" question is exactly how I see stories.

What if she was an immigrant?

What if he didn't know about her illness?

What if her mother lied?

And from that comes the story of the moment. And sometimes I leave them to veg in my head, and other story aspects come to mind and blend....

And then it adds layers to the story and plot.

This is wonderful stuff, and yes, there are SNICKERDOODLES....


Terri, can I get you coffee? Or tea? Or how about a nice, cold Coke?

Thank you for being here today!

Terri said...

Virginia, I confess. That is ketchup. Your story sounds amazing. I don't think I could ever write like that. Very impressive! I do enjoy reading those stories though.

Wilani Wahl said...


I love this post and your book sounds so interesting.

Since this is my first book my idea for it came from a few sources and rolled around in my brain for a few years.

One of them was when I read a book by Judy Baer that was written in diary format and I loved it and it was a treat to read something from a different perspective.

I worked as a CNA in the ER and Psychiatric unit some of those experiences gave lots of story ideas for within the book.

I am single never been married in my late 50's and so much is on the romance. I’ve wanted to read a book that addresses being content with being single.

My book is written in Journal form, The main character is single in her 30's working in the hospital as a CNA taking online courses to become a nurse. Her best friend is so desperate to be married that she goes to an online dating source and quickly gets married only the guy is not who she thinks he is. At the same time Gleeanna becomes content with being single and the Lord is her strength and all of a sudden her prince charming comes into her life.

I have a question for all you writers. Does the book need to have chapters since it is written in journal form. If it needs chapters I may need some help with how to divide it into chapters.

I am enjoying this process.

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Terri! It's always interesting to learn where other writers come up with their ideas. When anyone asks me where my ideas come from, I reply with a few general sources, like intriguing news stories, advice columns, etc.

But the truth is, I usually HAVE NO IDEA where my ideas come from!!!

They are just . . . there. I get a snippet that begins to grow and morph and . . . pretty soon I have the beginnings of a story.

Terri said...

Jackie - that is an intriguing combination. You know, I've heard several writers say they get inspiration from sermons. Reminds us who we are writing for.

Now I'm curious which reality show you were watching!

Sally said...

I don't know that I've ever had a snickerdoodle. Hmm.

I've gotten a number of book ideas from SportsCenter. How's that for weird, considering that I write women's fiction with strong romance leanings? But there was a very interesting story (about a baseball player, Ruthy), and I decided I had to explore it.

Missy Tippens said...

Terri, I LOVE that story starter you have! What a cute idea. I can't wait to read the finished novella!!

My ideas come from overhearing snippets of conversations at restaurants or watching the news. I've also had an idea (A Family for Faith) while watching a single dad with his young daughter on a plane.

I get ideas all over! Love playing the "what if" game. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Terri, I LOVE that story starter you have! What a cute idea. I can't wait to read the finished novella!!

My ideas come from overhearing snippets of conversations at restaurants or watching the news. I've also had an idea (A Family for Faith) while watching a single dad with his young daughter on a plane.

I get ideas all over! Love playing the "what if" game. :)

Marianne Barkman said...

Snickerdoodles??!!! I'll have one or two or...
Great post. I'll be looking for your books, Terri. Carol, yours too. How cool to,have written them in those times.

Kav said...

I'm loving this discussion on story ideas. Love Tina's recipe box idea. I have a little black book crammed full of ideas and then stuffed to the gills with scraps of papers I wrote the ideas on and then I have a word file with ideas in it. Very scattered. And there's Tina's all organized and dated. So guess what? I actually have a wooden box in the shape of a book!!!! Almost put it in a garage sale last year. I'm going to dust it off and it can become my story box. :-)

Also discovered how brainstorming works when I took Ruthy's series class last month. That was awesome.

Terri said...

Mary Hicks - I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Church is just a great place to get ideas, especially since we write for the Lord.

Make sure you keep all those notes. I'm amazed at how fast I can forget a story idea!

I'm glad you are enjoying writing. I think it is important to hang on to the joy of the writing journey. Sometimes I forget that.

My dogs do make life fun. Yours looks lithe a beauty.

Tina Radcliffe said...


It's featured prominently in my September release, Stranded with the Rancher. Just an FYI!!

Crystal Ridgway said...

Sometimes my story ideas come to me in dreams, sometimes in the 'what if' style, and sometimes when I'm having a simple conversation (especially with my sister). Somebody says something, and BINGO! Great story idea!

As great as today's giveaway is, please don't enter me. I only eat (and drink) organics. Let someone else enjoy that caffeine.

Terri said...

Connie Queen - i think a ton of authors use the "what if" concept so you are in good company. Funny story about the cowboy boots. That is my co-worker and she graciously let me take a picture and use it in the blog. Now here is the interesting part, her daughter lives in Midland! The same place your story is taking place in.

Good luck on your Killer Voice entry. And congrats for enteting. Keep us posted.

Crystal Ridgway said...

I just finished my speedbo ms at just the right length for ACFWs Genesis short novel category, so I entered it. Thats 7 entries total!!

Now, I'm gonna attempt to write a second ms for speedbo. Thanks for all the support you all provide!

Terri said...

Deb H - I'm so glad you enjoyed Mistletoe Magic and Tyler! Thanks for the shameless plug. :-)

Your idea sounds like a great Killer Voice entry. I hope those snails play into the story. I had no idea they could be venomous!

So far two of you have entered. Awesome!

Terri said...

Ooh Karen, I never thought of songs and music videos. You've opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. I like it. And I like putting a new spin on the classics.

Maybe with your encouragement I can whip that novella out. I'm planning on writing a bunch this weekend.

Hope you are making good progress on your deadline.

Terri said...

Sherri - I like the suffragette and vet! I admire the women who worked to get us the right to vote. I enjoy reading stories about them.

Thanks for your kind words about my book blurb!

Terri said...

Janet - I like that! Your idea that lines that jump start our stories are gifts from God.

Since I don't write historical, I never thought about the historical tidbits giving you ideas. Makes perfect sense. And you have come up with some great ideas!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Wilani, I don't think so...

Remember that great book "A Woman of Independent Means"?

That was all done as letters, and beautifully done. That's a great book to read for reference about how she got so much emotion into such a static book... I mean what holds still more than a letter or a journal?

I can't see chapters at all, unless the journal entries are short... and then the story kicks in. In which case then the chapter could evolve from that entry.

Does that make sense?

Terri said...

Hey Jeanne, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It sounds like you've got quite an imagination and it is kicking out some great story ideas.

A friend of mine talked about her daughter feeling invisible. I think that is a story many people will relate to and desire to read.

Terri said...

Ruthy- I'd love a nice cold coke!

What ifs are so much fun. Because even if all of us had the same what if question, we'd probably each come up with a different answer. Totally cool!

Pam Hillman said...

Good gravy, Terri, I can get an idea for a story from a toothpick!

Let's see...

Stealing Jake came out of Tyndale's request for a cowboy Christmas novellas many years ago. About that time, the topic of making your hero and heroine exact opposites was my latest technique to master, so I made Jake a sheriff's deputy and Olivia "Livy" (a nod to Oliver Twist, ya know) a pickpocket.

The Christmas novella I just contracted with Barbour (whoot!!!) came from the title that Becky Germany from Barbour suggested: The Evergreen Bride. Being a MS gal, I know a thing or two about green (as opposed to white) Christmases, so I ran with it. I'm writing the final scene right now and it makes my stomach flutter! :)

Terri said...

Wilani - how cool you are writing your first book and the journal format is unique.

I bet as time goes by you'll be able to use your experiences from the ER and Psychiatric units to generate lots of story ideas.

You've already got me to thinking about what if a sane woman's crazy husband convinced everyone she needed to be locked up?

I'm not sure and maybe a more experienced author can jump in, but I think you could probably have dates on your journal entries instead of chapters.

Lyndee H said...

Hi Terri,
I love the story about your sister and craft because a few lines later I had one of your sister's moments when I read:

"Since my plan for Speedbo is to write a novella, I knew I had to come up with an idea for subject novella. Bingo,"

YES, I thought you were going to write about BINGO! Let me say, I did a double-take. Blame it on my dyslexia, but I did laugh.

Great post. Many thanks!

Terri said...

Myra, maybe the Lord plants those ideas in your mind. Or maybe He has just blessed you with an imagination that is working even when you don't realize it.

However you do it, it obviously works!

Kav said...

Oooh...speaking of songs, does anyone ever give their hero and heroine a love song? I find that the lyrics really help me pace the romantic thread.

CONGRATULATIONS CRYSTAL! On making your Speedbo goal and entering it into a contest already. Way to go. And you entered Genesis 7 times with 7 different stories? THUD! I'm tortoise to your hare.

Terri said...

Sally, I can honestly say you are the first person I've heard say they've gotten an idea from Sportscenter.

Baseball is my favorite sport, so I would definitely enjoy reading it!

Terri said...

Thanks Missy, I'm excited about writing it. Ok, I think all of us enjoy playing the what if game and hearing snippets of conversation.

And people watching! That is a way to get story ideas that I forgot to list. Thanks for mentioning it.

Natalie Monk said...

How in the world did I miss the comment theme question? LOL. Up too late, I guess.

My newest project was inspired by some outdoorsmen in my church. Plus, it's book #2, so a lot of the plot follows up the aftermath of the first book.

Hero is a raccoon hunter, and all around outdoorsman, with a bad limp and a secret estranged wife who's suddenly back in town to start a boardinghouse shelter for the town's former prostitutes. She's feisty and a bit naive, so he's obliged to help her to keep her out of trouble. As if things couldn't get worse, the church volunteers him, a quiet, close-lipped man by choice, to fill the pulpit as temporary parson. Then the gossips get going... Oh, I'm excited about this one. :)

I'm enjoying reading how everyone came up with their story ideas! Can't wait until they're published and readable!!!

Mary Hicks, I get story ideas during sermons ALL the time!! :) I've heard of songwriters getting song ideas during sermons, so I guess it shouldn't be too unusual for us to get Christian story ideas. :)

Terri said...

Thanks Marianne! Enjoy the Snickerdoodles.

Crystal Ridgway said...

Yes, Kav seven different stories. One was a ms I'd written this past summer, but the other six were written in the space of four months. My easiest flowing mss take me two to two and a half weeks to complete, and the others take five weeks. I haven't had any exceptions from that.

Terri said...

Kav - I'm glad you didn't sell that book box. It will be the perfect home for your story ideas. So tell me, are you going to get all organized like Tina?

Dianna Shuford said...

Hi Terri! Great post.

My current story idea put me in a spin for a little while, but I think I've figured it out. It all started with a man who has an older brother who is autistic, and this story is a sequel those characters can't be changed. What could cause dissention between them...? Maybe younger brother is embarrassed by older brother's disability. Maybe they both fall for the same girl.

Both ideas sounded good so there's my conflict between the brothers and between the H/H. Now, hopefully those conflicts will hold during the writing of the story.

Robin Patchen said...

The idea for the story I'm working on now came to me during a church sermon. I don't even remember what the sermon was about (apparently, I wasn't paying attention. I was thinking up story ideas!) But a question popped into my mind--maybe the pastor said it--and I couldn't let it go. What wouldn't you be willing to sacrifice for Christ? By the time I left the service that day, I knew my answer--and I had a heroine who's obviously a much better person than I. Within a couple of days, I had the story mapped out in my mind, and off I went.

Terri said...

Crystal - way to go! Seven Genesis entries is amazing. I am in awe. You obviously have no shortage of story ideas.

Sisters are a big help with story ideas. Mine has to listen to all my ideas. I keep thinking I'll write a book I haven't discussed with her and surprise her. So far I haven't been able to keep my mouth shut that long.

Darlene Franklin said...

Great piece, Terri. My current story came from a good knowledge of the setting and family history (from previous books). I searched for headlines from Vermont for the past year, looking for something believable in that state. Found an article about truancy and truant officers who became my hero. And my heroine is the mother of the "Troubled Teen," an experience frightingly like my son's teen years.He's 34 today.

Elaine Manders said...

Hi Terri

All of my ideas seem to start as bolts from the blue and the current WIP is book 2 of a series that came to me from something my pastor said. He said he felt inadequate in witnessing to atheists. That kept nagging me because I've known a few atheists. I read somewhere that it's the fastest growing religion in the country, yes, it's a belief system even though it's usually tied to science.

A lot of my plotting is done using the "what if" approach, but sometimes it comes from research.

Just reached page 220, about 60K, in my Speedbo project.

Terri said...

Pam - I love how you get those story ideas! Brilliant.

Congratulations on your sale! When does the book release? I want to read it.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Terri ... LOVE this post and WOW, did you hook me with the blurb on Mistletoe Magic, girlfriend -- sounds GREAT!!

Well, I kind of cheat when it comes to ideas for plots, meaning with my O'Connor family saga, all I had to do was come up with the plot for book 1, A Passion Most Pure, and honestly those emotional and passionate O'Connors did the rest! It was a bit of a domino effect where I carefully set up book 1, and the others just all toppled into place after that.

BUT ... book 1 came from my love of Gone With the Wind, meaning I wanted an Irish family during a war with a love triangle like Margaret did, so she's the inspiration behind seven of my books, you might say. :)

The biggest source of plot lines for me, though, are from my own life or from the lives of people I know. :)


Sally said...

Yay, Terri! Another baseball fan! Which team do you root for? Please don't say the Cubs!

Wilani Wahl said...

Ruth and Terri,

thanks for your input and answers to my question.

By the way, Terri, My borther's first name is Weldon!

Terri said...

Lyndee H. - that is too funny. I wonder if we could finagle a story out of Bingo?

Terri said...

Kav - now I've got to look into this song idea. Does the pacing of your story and song go hand in hand?

Terri said...

Hey Natalie, I'm glad you stopped back by and shared your story idea. I like it! I'm ready to see how he handles the preaching, the estranged wife, and the gossips!

Terri said...

Crystal - teach me how to write faster!

Janet Lee Barton said...

Great post, Terri! I love the idea for this next novella and I can't wait to read it!

Terri said...

Dianna - good ideas! I bet you will be able to come up with enough to sustain the story and show character growth. Like younger brother quits being embarrassed or something like that.

Terri said...

Hey Robin, thanks for stopping by. Sounds to me like you were paying attention. Several of us have confessed to getting ideas in church.
I love the sound of your story and I'm so eager to read it. I know it will be amazing. All your books are!

Kav said...

CRYSTAL -- I'm gobsmacked. Seriously -- two to five weeks to finish a wip? I'm slower than a tortoise by comparison. And you're the energizer bunny on steroids. Oy!!!!!

TERRI -- I will not be as organized as Tina. I've brought the book box even has a gold clasp -- how cool is that? And I just chucked all the bits and pieces of story starters into it. But at least they are contained and won't it be an adventure to just close my eyes and pull something out and run with it?

And regarding the love songs. I'm always way too fast at getting my hero and heroine together so the love song helps me draw that out. I break it up into a couple of lines per romance scene and it helps me focus. It's kind of hard to explain -- but if you look at the lyrics to a love song, they really evoke images -- mini scenes and spark ideas and that's what I focus the love story on. Take a look at Love Only Knows sung by Josh Groban. There's angst, and uncertainty and yearning and hope. Fodder for the romance writer's soul. Of course, I don't actually use the lyrics in the story...not the finished copy anyway. :-)

Carol Moncado said...

CRYSTAL!!! Good for you!!!!

I "only" have four this year [same cat for all of them] but last year [literally God only knows how], I finished my full rough draft in like THIRTEEN FREAKIN' DAYS and knew I had to enter it. It got some good fdk but didn't semi much less final.

(That would be book 3 mentioned up there ;))

No words for me yet today. Finished Mesu Andrews's new book. Headed to the manuscript now to see what churns up... :)

Carol Garvin said...

Happy March mid-point to everyone! :) Terri, your title is a question so many people ask whenever you tell them you're a writer! I loved hearing how you get yours. I don't tend to start with "what if", but I almost always have a mental image of someone and then go the "who is it, what's he/she doing, why, where, with whom and when is it happening" route.

I worked on my Speedbo/March Madness WIP last night, coming up with 471 words. (Yeah, I'm a plodder, but that's brisk plodding for me.) It's late morning here on Canada's west coast and I'm sipping coffee (thanks, Natalie) and getting ready for an hour of work before lunch. Now that I've had my dose of Seekerville inspiration, I'm good to go.

Linda Goodnight said...

Hi Terri,

Enjoyed the article and love the concept for your newest novella. But then, I loved Mistletoe Magic, too!

As to ideas, mine come like yours do, and I sure need some to visit right now!

Terri said...

Darlene - I'm so glad you stopped by. You were such a help to me with Mistletoe Magic.

Is this a Maple Notch book? I like the hero and heroine you have planned!

Regina Jennings said...


I love the behind the scenes peek at your inspiration! Today I'm being inspired by a whodunit, as in - What if an author had a book launch party scheduled and four boxes of her books were still missing one week after UPS said they'd been delivered?! Hopefully it'll be a short, romantic comedy and not a tragedy. ;)

Thanks for the fun article and the AWESOME picture of the bloody scissors!

Crystal Ridgway said...

Well, Kav, I may be able to write fast, but I'm not published yet, so speed writing doesn't necessarily mean anything. One day soon I'm going to be sending my VERY FIRST query to an agent. Wish me luck.

Annie Rains said...

My ideas pop out of everywhere when I'm in the groove. If I sit and try to come up with an idea, there's nothing. LOL. That's why we writers should always carry a notebook to capture those moments of inspiration and write them down for later. My current wip started with the hero's profession. I have a friend's whose husband has a cool job and I knew I wanted my hero to have that job, too. And the plot evolved from that.

Happy Friday, Seekerville!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Terri! My ideas come from a myriad of places. My first novel came from a dream that I had, then fleshed out into something more (I've read my notes that I wrote from that initial dream, and most of it has changed!). My second, which I hope will be a cozy murder mystery series, is about a communications manager for a professional orchestra who ends up solving crimes. That one, well, I'm a PR manager for a symphony, so guess where that one came from? (I've never had to solve a murder, but we did have a musician faint on stage during a performance once.)Like any performing art, there's a lot going on underneath the surface that the audience doesn't know about.

Mistletoe Magic looks adorable! I will have to check it out!

BTW, I'm enjoying this 60 degree sunshine here in Nebraska today! C'mon spring!

Have a lovely weekend!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Good news. The corned beef and cabbage are ready in the Yankee Belle Cafe. Macaroons for dessert.

Gotta keep up your strength for writing. Vegans can eat veggies only.

Karen Kirst said...

Thanks, Terri. I'll be on the lookout for your finished novella. The reason I'm so interested is when I first started writing, (before I was published) I poured a lot into a story about a pastor and a Sunday school teacher he disapproved of. Never did get it off the ground, but to this day I still love those characters.
Good luck! :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, my goodness Regina Jennings. That's not a mystery! That's a tragedy!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Robin Patchen, welcome to Seekerville. Are you an Okie too? I see Linda Goodnight here in her boots!

Tina Radcliffe said...

CRYSTAL!! SERIOUSLY? 7 entries and now starting your second Speedbo???


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Terri and welcome to Seekerville. Thanks for sharing a great post. I just have to laugh at God's sense of humor. I just started yesterday trying to think of an idea for a Christmas novella. Now here comes your post. Toooooo funny. And tooooo sweet. Thank you both. smile

Have a fun day.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Terri Weldon, yes!!!! I never worry if someone has a similar story idea (well, unless it's Love Inspired because they won't want to put out similar books in a short span of time...)

Because of what you said!!! We all approach stories so differently.

Snark characters are going to handle a secret baby story way differently than quiet, introverted characters would. And in that characterization, the entire story shifts.

You are brilliant!

(This is not a big surprise, by the way!)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I stopped by the corned beef and cabbage bar in Yankee Belle Cafe...

For an Italian, Radcliffe rocked the food for St. Patty's Day Weekend!!!

Go you, Tina!!!!

Terri said...

Elaine, congrats on your great Speedbo progress! I like what your pastor said and understand. Though I must admit I never thought of atheism as a religion. So sad that it is fast growing.

You are the first to mention research as a place to get a story idea. Very interesting. Do you have something in mind and are researching or are you just researching and come across something you think would make a good novel?

Terri said...

Julie - Seven books out of one. I have a feeling you made that sound a lot easier than it was. Those Irish just have a way of reeling you in.

I know another author who uses real people to inspire his stories. Pretty cool.

Thanks for your kind words about Mistletoe Magic!

Terri said...

Sally - I'm a Redsox fan. Just don't tell Ruthy! Who is your favorite team?

Terri said...

Janet - thanks for stopping by! I hope the novella turns out well and you get a chance to read it.

Terri said...

Mac - I may have to try a song sometime. I'll be tracking you down for help!

Terri said...

KAV - wicked autocorrect changed your name on me!

Terri said...

Carol Garvin - great approach and there are times I would be money a head to think things through a little better.

Hope you have a very productive Friday!

Loves To Read said...

Hi Terri - I loved Mistletoe Magic and can't wait to read your next novella. It sounds so cute! I'm not a writer but I just love to read Christian fiction - romance and mystery . Keep up the good work!

Terri said...

Linda - so glad you popped in! I can't imagine you ever running out of story ideas. Your books are amazing!

Terri said...

Regina - that would be such a sad story! I hope it has a happy ending.

I'm glad you liked the pic! It was fun to do.

Terri said...

Annie you are spot on. Writers should have a notebook handy all the time. Because if the rest of you are anything like me, I can forget a story idea as fast as I can think of one.

So you're like Julie and real life inspired you. I bet your friend and her husband are happy to have been able to help.

Terri said...

Can I ask what the cool job was?

Terri said...

Stephanie - I love a good cozy mystery! Let me know when yours is available. So your story idea cane from real life - your own. That is cool! And it sounds like a great idea.

You know I've heard several people say they dream stories. I think that is nifty.

Terri said...

Tina - Robin isn't really an Okie, but she lives here now. I think her heart is still up East. She is a great author and has amazing editing skills!

Mary Curry said...

Hi Terri,
Thanks for a great post. Coming up with ideas is my absolute favorite part of writing!
I'm currently working on two different stories. One idea came from a story I remembered my father telling me when I was a kid. He was telling me about a summer job he had digging graves in a cemetery. He said they'd dig a bit, then go lay down in the grave and take a nap. My RS mind wondered what would happen if they found bones down there while getting ready to nap.

The other idea is harder to explain, but it came to me while I was washing dishes one summer evening. I could hear an outdoor party at one of the buildings down the street - and well, I'll leave you hanging on that one since I'm just developing it.

Mary Curry said...

Oh, should have said count me in for the coffee card. If we're 14 days into Speedbo, I'm at 14k - despite a rather difficult past two weeks doing grading and report cards. Got the cards done, got the words done, sleep - not so much. Need coffee.

Sally said...

Terri, I'm the White Sox, who were just about the exact opposite of your Sox last year, even while we had Jake Peavy. :) I bet you're all ready for opening day.

Ginger Venturoni said...

My idea for my first SpeedBo came from the fact that I spend way too much time watching true crime tv shows, so I thought I could probably write that. :)

Things are trucking along...but writing the bad guy is proving a bit harder than I thought.

CatMom said...

Welcome Terri! SO glad to see you here in Seekerville today, sweet friend. And I'm still chuckling over your sister's "crafty" comment *wink*.

I love when ideas suddenly come to me, and that usually happens when I'm in the shower, LOL (I really need a waterproof board to write on).

Several years ago, my family and I were on a shopping trip in a large city about an hour from home. When we went into a bookstore, I spotted a clerk behind the counter, and immediately a story idea began forming about three people whose lives are intertwined due to meeting in a bookstore. That idea would not leave me alone, so I've written the manuscript (am currently revising it!).

Looking forward to reading your novella! Thanks again for sharing here today.
Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

Terri said...

Mary Curry - ooh spooky. I love it! Just thinking about those bones and if they didn't notice them until they were already stretched out for a nap...I could jump a mile high to get out of there.

Great work on your Speedbo goal. April is for sleeping. Right?

Terri said...

LovesToRead - thanks for stopping by and for your kind words. If you love Christian Fiction this is the perfect place to visit.

Terri said...

Sally - hey at least we both like Sox! Yes, I'm hoping we have another great year.

Terri said...

Ginger - are you writing true crime or suspense?

I heard an author talking about bad guys once. She said you had to proceed with caution because that bad guy is with you the entire time you are writing the book.

I like to write suspense and I enjoy writing my bad guys. It is fun to give them their own little quirks.

Terri said...

Patti Jo - I love reading your comments everyday. You are such a joy! My sis gave me permission to post. I think she thought I was crazy. :-)

Your book sounds wonderful! I live that story idea and how you came up with it. When it is published I get my own autographed copy.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

I can't believe it's already half way through Speedbo!

Great post today, Terri! Playing the what if game is fun and I liked seeing what you came up with!

Jenny Blake said...

Its interesting I have read a couple of blogs this week with similar questions. one was on people watching and how seeing someone can give an idea for a story. Last week it was a bag on the side of the road and how so many people had different ideas.

I cant think right now brain dead (had to vote for the state election and now my head hurts bad) but I will be ok.

I don't need a starbucks voucher.

Jana Vanderslice said...

Most of my ideas come from 3 sources...

1.)My current book idea came from FaceBook. (I know, how embarrassing!) My friend posted she was at Cracker Barrel and wanted to "borrow" an old antique photo of someone's grandmother that was hanging on the bathroom wall. The first line of my book is "Grab the dead lady and let's get out of here!" It's going to be fun to write!

2.) I live in East Texas on a ranch that has been in my family for five generations. I wake up in a world of story ideas every day. Texas is a Great place to live!

3.) I'll admit I am a bit dingy. Funny things and semi-disasters just tend to happen to me. :) I have lots of crazy tales to work into a book as long as I can disguise my true identity in the incident!

Terri said...

Eva - glad you enjoyed it! I'm amazed at how fast the month is flying by.

Terri said...

Jenny - hope your headache goes away and you feel better soon.

Terri said...

Jana - I LOVE IT!!!! I bet your book will be amazing. Is it a mystery?

Wow, five generations. That is great. I bet it gives you a strong sense if family and belonging. You are right, you've got a treasure trove of ideas.

Please keep me posted on your story. It sounds so fun.

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...


Glad to see you in Seekerville again! WAHOO!

LOVED how the villain whispered in your ear. What a terrific opening for a story!! /shudder/

For May and me, we comb current events and see how we can weave them into K9 Spy stories. It's really fun and a number of our readers have commented how it seems our books are taken straight out of the news.

This makes us wonder how dated our stories will be down the road but it seems to be a good thing for now! :)

Wow - 14 days in already?! You're so right. Better get busy!!!

Haven't had time to read thru comments yet so I'm probably missing something huge. LIKE CAROL'S AGENT SIGNING (cheating here - saw it on FB!) Congrats to Carol!

Happy writing, plotting, revising all!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

RED SOX??????

Oh my stars, oh my stars, oh my stars......

(hangs head.... wanders away...)

Carol Moncado said...

LOL! Thanks for the backflip May!!!!

And yes - the news is out in the open now :D. I signed with Tamela Hancock Murray - and you can find the whole story in The One Wherein I Have Big News [take note of the pen ;)].

Tina Radcliffe said...

Congratulations,Carol!!!!!! WOOT!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Ginger... It's hard to be MEAN ENOUGH to write the bad guy, isn't it????

To give him reason enough to be bad and to nail some sort of wretched reasoning....

Sometimes chilling reality in fiction.

Terri said...

KC - glad you stopped by! Your books are wonderful! We've read them all at my house. Two schnauzers live down the street. Nolly is convinced they are May and Hans!

Carol Moncado said...

Thanks, Tina :D.

Terri said...

Ruthy - I thought if a new story idea. What if Derek Jeter decided he really wanted to be a Red Sox?

Terri said...

Yeah Carol! That is awesome news!

Tanya Agler said...

I love reading how other people start with a snippet and turn it into an entire novel or novella.

I am also writing a Christmas story that revolves around a misunderstanding and escalates but with additional conflicts.

Happy writing.

Linda Marie Finn said...

OK, I am back in the writing !!! I wrote over 2000 words today, yeah me !!! I am up to 9500 and I am counting, will catch up,writing more tomorrow ! Go Speedbo !!! Hey, I have never been to starbucks, I would love to go though I have homemade vanilla cake made with stevia !!! wont kill the blood sugar, see pics on my wall on FB.
Linda Marie Finn New Website

Terri said...

Tanya, good luck with your Christmas story!

I love reading about how other people's minds work.

Terri said...

Linda - way to go on the word count! I think I'll celebrate with you by having some of that yummy cake.

Sharon Srock said...

Terri, Loved the post, but what happens when a handful of characters jump into your head on the drive home from work?

Terri said...

Ah, then you have to decide which character wants their story told the most. Usually the one that whines and talks the loudest. The other characters can help shape the story.

I'm excited to see what you come up with. You always amaze me.

Emily Neyer said...

I keep trying to hit the like on these comments! Lol! No like button like on FB. But I do like this a lot!!!

Emily Neyer said...

Well this is my first story and it has been in my head for a couple of years. There is a lot of me and my life/habits in the story right now but that will change when my heroine starts to have a love life since mine is non-existent. LOL!

Anyway she has some similar experiences to me, but she has to make a choice between two good guys and I'm having a harder time than she is deciding who she picks.

Didn't get much done, but I am multi-tasking tonight so I may get more done. But since I joined Speedbo I have more than doubled my word count!!!

Erin Taylor Young said...

Love it, Terri. Nice article! And Mistletoe Magic was a fun story!

Terri said...

Emily, I think all of our heroines have more exciting lives than we do. I know mine does! It will be fun to see who you pick for her and how you decide.

Congrats on doubling your word count!

Terri said...

Erin, thanks for dropping by!

Olivia said...

Took the day off from writing but went to a book club and listened while others explained why they would abandon a book or author or series! Enlightening...
My first novel is about several characters in Ireland. The setting is based on my husband's research to complete some geneaology and the places it took us on a 2 week stay there.
Please enter me in the starbuck's card drawing. Speedbo runs on caffeine!

Terri said...

Hey Olivia, sounds like you got some research in today. Now you know how to keep readers.

Love the sound of your story. Ireland is someplace I'd want to visit. And you have first hand experiences to add to your story and setting.

Jon and Vicki Marney said...

I enjoyed reading about how you came up with story ideas. I am a beginner, and so far I have three different WIP's--all three are based on true stories.
One is my own memoir about going through breast cancer, so I don't have to figure out the story-line, I just need to remember, from way back when (20 years ago).

Then there is Serena Joy's story which is a fiction children's book based on a true story about a young girl in my family who was molested--trying to reach out to girls who have had a similar situation. The third one just climbed right out of my children's story demanding to have their own story told--again based on a true life story involving a friend (& yes, my friend has agreed to help me and gave me her permission to tell her story).
I did not plan to go this direction, but apparently God did.
Thanks everyone.

Mary Preston said...

AS a reader I always love to know where authors get their story ideas from. So much fun reading through.

Terri said...

Vicki - it is wonderful you are going to be able to help others through your life experiences while writing.

Terri said...

Thanks, Mary, I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Ginger Venturoni said...

Terri--It's turning into more of a true crime/murder mystery.

Ruth--Yes, it is turning out to be hard to be mean enough. :)

Thanks to you both for the pointers!

Loves To Read said...

I also like to hear how authors come up with their storylines. I always wonder how much is based on real experiences. I think most writers have great imaginations - which is wonderful for us readers!