Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Story Ideas

by Patricia Bradley

What do you suppose is the one comment from readers most fiction writers do not want to hear? If you said: You ought to write a book about my life, you would be right. At least you would be right about me. 

Why do you suppose a writer wouldn't want to be given a ready-made plot with a really interesting character? That's what I had to explain to a friend just this week. 

The friend in question had led a very interesting life--I'm sure of that because she's a very nice person and some very interesting things have happened to her. But...

Unfortunately, for this writer anyway, that question makes me quake in my boots. I mean, how do you tell someone who is very serious about their life being perfect for the plot of a book that you can't take their life story and fictionalize it. Especially when this is someone you are really fond of.

I tried to explain that I write fiction and that while I might use something that had happened in her life as an obstacle in my heroine's life, I couldn't take her whole life story and write it. I can't even write a story based on my life. 

My story ideas usually come from nowhere. An example is my first book, Shadows of the Past (which is free as a digital download until August 31). I was sitting on my sofa, reading my devotion for the day when a woman popped into my head and said that someone was trying to kill her. Of course, I had to know more, and that's when I wrote the book. 

So, for the authors out there, what do you say when someone tells you they'd like for you to write their life story? And that it would be a New York Times Best Seller?


  1. I can relate, Patricia! Many of my story ideas come out of the blue. Often it's a piece of dialogue that pops in my head and starts the ball rolling. And rolling... :)

  2. Not that I'm an official author yet, but I have had people tell me that I should write about their lives. When this happens, I tell them that they should write it themselves, because who better to write it? I am not the person who knows every detail that they will want in the story.

  3. This has happened all too often to me! It's scary, isn't it? I remember once in church a woman showed up who rarely attended, but made a point to sit next to me. She acted super friendly and I thought, wow, a new friend. But you guessed it. She simply wanted to approach me out writing a book about her life. But here's the thing, all our lives are interesting. We all have stories--that's what life is--it's one big story!