Feb 25, 2013

An Idea Or Two......

 By Helen Lacey

I love hearing from readers and really enjoy talking about writing and about the story they’ve just read. It’s a wonderful feeling when a reader becomes so involved they ask about the characters and where the idea for the book came from.

And my answer is always the same ….. Where do ideas come from? Well, everywhere.

As an example, in my latest Harlequin Special Edition release His-And-Hers Family, I got the idea from a family friend whose cousin gave her baby up for adoption when she was just fifteen. From this one conversation I started thinking about what might happen if she had a chance to reconnect with that child many years later. So, the story was born by asking a whole series of ‘what if’s’.

In another book I wrote recently, watching a television special on the ABC late one night about twin sisters who were separated as toddlers and then found one another again when they were thirty, got me asking myself the same ‘what if’ question. As I watched the show I discovered that these sisters had experienced many similar things in their life – like they married a man with the same first name and both had a operation on the same day . It wasn't long after watching this show that the idea for the book developed and was then written.
But it’s not only in writing where ideas abound. I have a friend who is an interior designer. She can look at and old piece of furniture, imagine it restored and immediately see that piece fitting into the home of a client. Me, well I just see an old piece of furnitureJ. She can merge colours together and knows exactly what lighting, what art and what floor coverings will work. And guess where she gets her ideas from . . .  everywhere. From books, from television, from other people. 

The best part is, ideas are free. They can come when we least expect them, or when we’ve been studying something long and hard. And they make us unique, because we all have different ideas that come from our different experiences and our different lives.

What about you – have you ever seen a gardening show and thought you might like to plant a veggie patch in your own yard? Have you ever witnessed a picture perfect sunset and thought you might like to paint it. Or grabbed your camera to snap a photo that begged to be taken? Do you have an new idea just begging to take hold? I'd love to hear if you're about to embark on a new adventure or embrace a new idea.


  1. Helen, it's amazing what different people draw inspiration from, isn't it? I smiled about your friend being able to visualise a rejuvenated piece of furniture in a finished room while you just see the old furniture. It's wonderful how our minds work in different ways and we all come up with different things from the same ingredients - like being at a writing workshop and all being asked to write something on the same theme - and we all tackle it from a different angle. Fascinating!

    I'm about to tackle a new story soon but the ideas are still tumbling about - a little unfixed. I love it when inspiration hits out of the blue with some chance words. I was once trying to work out a title for my current manuscript when I came up with 'The Unwanted Wife' - which was nothing to do with the manuscript at all. But it sounded so intriguing I jotted it down anyway and kept coming back to it over a few months, wondering why she was unwanted. When I worked that out I had a story I just couldn't wait to write.

  2. Hi Helen - good post :) I sometimes wish I could turn my brain off with the "what ifs". Often when I see a good show/movie or something good happens, I start what-ifing.

    One of my favourite inspirations is the free Melbourne paper - Mx, there's the Sx in Sydney. They have lots of kooky stories in them and ......they're true! Great to be inspired with more "what-ifs".

  3. Hi Annie - I always love hearing how other people get their inspiration ... it fuels my own imagination if that makes sense. Great title too.

  4. Hi Joanne - I often do that too in movies ... especially if I think the ending could have been better (like in Somersby for instance) And free papers with kooky stories sounds like a goldmine of ideas.

  5. Ideas really can spark from anywhere can't they, Helen? A snatch of something half overheard. A story someone tells you about someone they know. An editor asking, 'could you please write a Christmas story?' I find, however, that it's a few of these all mixed up together that creates a story. I think that's why I always find it so hard to go back and trace the genesis of a story.

    P.S. One of my favourite things to do is brainstorm with friends. It can be amazing what different directions a story can go in with different energies sparking and creating so much potential. :-)

  6. Hi Michelle - brainstorming is fabulous. When I get the chance to do this with my best writing buddy it really gets the creative well flowing. :)

  7. Oh, Helen I can so relate to your friend. I've seen so many old pieces of furniture and been able to visualize what they'd look like done up...trouble is, I bought them all (and the fabric and bits of bobs to do them up) and every single one is still sitting in the shed...{:o/

    I'm a big brainstorming fan too. LOVE to both help my writing buddies with their "inspiration" and have them help me.

  8. I love brainstorming too! And I love that ideas come from all sorts of random places.

    And yes, I watch gardening shows and want to plant a new garden. Ditto with home decorating shows and cooking shows. :)

  9. Hi Barb - you have that creative furniture gene - I'm jealous :)

  10. Hi Rachel - oh, cooking shows.... yes. Love MKR.... but sadly my cooking wouldn't make the grade. Brainstorming seems to be a 'must do' for most writers :)

  11. Helen, we've turned into Jamie Oliver 30 Minute Meals fans here! Of course it takes us longer than 30 minutes! LOL

    I do enjoy the gardening shows too - alas the green-thumb gene passed me right by!

    I'm fairly new to brainstorming but I'm a complete convert! Though my inner editor still struggles to take over at times!