the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Friday, October 14, 2011

Story Ideas

There's one question writers get asked above all others:  How do you get your ideas?  I got that one again just a couple days ago.  I usually shrug and say I dont know.  But honestly, I have to ask: How do you not get ideas?

This tree is up the road from my house.  Doesn't it make you think of one of those Disney cartoon trees, where limbs suddenly become arms and knot holes become faces?  Because I'm certain that late at night this old guy pulls his roots out of the ground and stalks the neighborhood, blood dripping from his shattered stump of a neck as he looks for his head.  What, too gory?  Okay, maybe in your story he's planting acorns and returning baby birds to their nests.  (And just so you know, that makes you a wimp.)  But he's more than a tree, right?  That makes him a story.

Or this:  This car is in our barn.  A guy my husband worked with years ago needed a place to store it.  He said it was his dad's car, and he wanted to restore it, and he would pay us for temporary storage.  Okay.  He brought it over and put the cover on it.  The car has now been here for 13 or 14 years.  He's never done a thing with it.  Never comes out to check on it.  Never asks about it.  Sends a check once a year. 

I call it the murder car.  You can't tell me there's not blood in the back seat and a body in the trunk.  Whatever happened involves corrupt politicians and mob money and bribery, and all it costs them to hush it up is a paltry storage fee.  Forget you ever heard about it, and no one gets hurt.

If your mind didn't go there, well, why not?  Because I don't understand how you can not see the untold stories that are all around you, every day.  And if you do, maybe you should be writing them down.  I do!


  1. So... have you had the urge to remove the cover off the car and "LOOK" for the body.. I guess that is why some people are writers and others readers... the writers see the stories.

    Tell Mr. 'Ambrose' to get busy on moving those rocks for you. :)

  2. I CAN'T look under the cover, because then I'd KNOW! And either I'd be wrong, and the story would die, or I'd be right, and (I imagine) I'd die. I like not knowing!