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Where ideas come from

People sometimes ask “Where do you get ideas for stories?” I used to answer that I bought them from a little guy who lives in the basement of a convenience store, but that was silly. The truth is that story ideas come from all kinds of places.

The idea for “Freedom” began, in fact, with a mental image. It was quite similar to the image on the cover of the book – a naked, battered man huddled in the corner of an all-white room. The image lurked in my mind until I couldn’t stand the curiosity any more: I had to know who this man was. How did he come to be in this apparently terrible situation? Would he be able to escape or find his own senses?

In answering those questions, the story of “Freedom” took shape. FIrst I met Jac, then Patrick wandered into place as a good-hearted, well-meaning helper. Eventually, the wider world took shape around those two characters and the story basically told itself. I only wish every story was as easy in the birthing as “Freedom.”

Unfortunately, other ideas don’t take shape quite with the ease that “Freedom” did. I’m working on a story now that began from the idea of the ending. I’m finding that working my way up to the ending is a lot harder than starting at the beginning and moving forward. But each story is its own challenge, just like each ideaa is its own challenge. I wish I could answer the question more clearly, but the truth is that ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, and every story is a unique opportunity to explore the varied world of writing.