Tag Archives: story ideas

Where Do You Get Your Story Ideas? Alison Stone Wants to Know

Alison Stone (200X300)As writers, that has to be one of the biggest questions we get. Ah, I hate to sound cliché, but ideas are everywhere.

For my book Random Acts, I read an article about a young girl who had been pulled over for speeding. The police took her into the station and bullied her into signing an agreement to be a drug informant. A drug informant! This college student had never been involved with drugs. But in exchange for leniency for her speeding ticket, she was pressured to be an informant. Fortunately for her, her father was a lawyer. He not only went to the police, but to the media.

I then searched the Internet and learned this wasn’t an isolated incident. In 2008, a woman in Florida was killed when she was forced to purchase drugs undercover after being caught with a small amount of cannabis.

By now, my wheels were turning.

For my second book, Too Close to Home, I used an idea that had been bouncing aroundTCTH Alison Stone (200X300) in my head for years—longer than I had been writing. I used to be a manufacturing engineer for an automotive parts supplier. As a twenty-some-year-old female engineer, I was well aware the guys on the floor liked to yank my chain. One guy told me that once someone drowned in one of the large tanks used in the manufacturing process. He claimed he was murdered in retaliation for a drug deal gone bad. I have no idea if “his” story was true or not, but in my story,Too Close to Home, drugs are smuggled through a manufacturing facility and into Canada.

Ideas can also be generated by thinking, “What if.” When I learned Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense was looking for more Amish stories, I started brainstorming. The Amish generally shun technology. How could technology wreak havoc in their Plain world? Then it hit me: What if a plane crashed in an Amish field? What if the heroine’s brother was killed in a single-engine plane crash in an Amish field and she has to go there to claim his body? What if while she’s there, the FBI hero starts asking a lot of questions?
Original Plain Pursuit Cover

This idea became Plain Pursuit which will be released by Harlequin in June 2013.

Here’s the blurb: When her brother is killed in a small Amish town, Anna Quinn discovers she’s an unwelcome outsider. But the FBI agent investigating the case is right at home–because Eli Miller was born and raised in Apple Creek’s Plain community. Eli left his Amish faith behind long ago, but his heart is rooted in a local cold case he can’t forget–a mystery with strange connections to Anna’s loss. Desperate to uncover the truth, Anna and Eli are faced with stony silences and secrets…secrets that someone wants to keep buried in the past.

It’s fun to see an idea grow into a book, then be summarized in a few-sentence blurb.
Once I was outside chatting with neighbors and one of them stopped, looked at me and said (in all sincerity), “This isn’t going to appear in a book, is it?”
I smiled and said nothing. I don’t make promises I can’t keep.

So tell me, If you’re a writer, where do you get your ideas?

Also, Random Acts, originally released in eBook format, is now available in print.Random Acts Alison Stone (200 X 300)

Blurb:Bitter experience left Danielle hesitant to open her heart. When a family crisis brings her home, the hard-nosed attorney is forced to face the man that let her get away. And that her sister’s accident was staged to mask a beating.
Though Patrick guards his heart, seeing Danielle again reignites their old flame. But no way will he bring her into his daughter’s life, not when her values on faith and family are so different from his own. Yet they must work together to bring a criminal to justice before everything is destroyed—including their second chance at forever.

Links for Random Acts:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Random-Acts-ebook/dp/B00795G1X4/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1362254466&sr=8-2
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/random-acts-alison-stone/1108890294?ean=9781609289386

ALISON STONE writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense and Samhain Publishing. Her debut novel, Random Acts, was a finalist for the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award in the unpublished inspirational category. Alison lives in Western New York with her husband of over twenty years and their four children where the summers are absolutely gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a good book—or writing one. Besides writing, Alison keeps busy volunteering at her children’s schools, driving her girls to dance, and watching her boys race motocross.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Alison_Stone or @Alison_Stone
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AlisonStoneAuthor
Blog: http://alisonstone.wordpress.com/

Thickening the Plot

Good morning everyone!  Sorry I’m a bit late getting this post up, but J Monkeys is heading out for the day (again!) and just asked me to post for her.  Vivienne Ylang here.  Happy Saturday.  Last week I wrote about how I keep my characters real during the writing process.  Today I thought I’d tell you a bit about how I develop the plot of the story. 

Of course, it all starts with a kernel of an idea.  For some reason, the synapses of the brain fire and an idea occurs.  For me, ideas come easy.  I have way more ideas than I have ability to focus and get the job done.  I guess for some people ideas are the hard part.  My mom went back to college to get a Bachelor’s degree while I was in college and she said that writing papers were the toughest thing for her.  The math, the science (she’s a nurse) were a piece of cake, but tell her to write something and she’d stare at a blank piece of paper for hours.  I always found this hard to believe.  I entertain myself with blank pieces of paper all the time – and they don’t stay blank for long.

At any rate, once the idea is firmly fixed in my mind and I’ve got characters to go along with the idea, then comes the plot grid.  Yes, yes, I’m absolutely the planner type of writer.  Why wouldn’t I be?  I plan everything.  I love to plan.  If I tried pantsing my way through a book, it might take 7 years to write.  Trust me on this – I have experience.  I know that being a pantser (pantsers are people who enjoy writing by the seat of their pants) works for a lot of people; I’m not one of them. 

The plot grid is simply a type of outline where the major points in the story are noted down.  I like to use a plot grid I got from another author.  It’s pretty straightforward.  The thing that I like about it the best is that it makes me think about my Turning Points.  This is new for me, I haven’t thought this way before.  Turning Points are those places where the story…well, turns…for lack of a better term.   Most books have three of them: the first “change of plans”, the “point of no return” and the “major setback”.

The other thing that the plot grid has me thinking about is the Black Moment.  This is the final build up to the climax of the story.  The moment when the hero and heroine realize that everything they thought was true earlier in the story is, in fact, either not true or doesn’t matter.  The black moment is what prompts the characters to push their way through the horrors of the climax of the story.

So in addition to continuing to populate my character board (see last week’s post), I’ve spent time this past week working on my plot grid.  I’ve still got a way to go, but that’s ok.  I’m going on a long weekend vacation with the family next week and have decided to push my official start date for this book out to July 9th when the kiddies start Summer Camp and I’ll have some free time.  Even now, writing this post, there have been interruptions galore – demands for breakfast, and movies to entertain them. 

Today’s secret: Think about those turning points and build your way up to them.

Today’s question: What tools do you use to plot your stories?

And as a bonus – since I was dreaming about him just before I woke to write this post – here’s a little something to inspire you.  Joe Manganiello and I were saving the world together.  Hmmm.  Too bad I can’t go back to sleep.  But there’s always tonight.