Where do you get your ideas?

Over and over, I’ve been told, “Write what you know.”   I’ve never agreed.  If authors stuck to writing what they knew, no historicals would be in print because the author  wasn’t alive to witness those events.   Agatha Christie would never had written her mysteries because, as far as we know, she never killed anyone.

 I wrote two historicals that took place in Regency England in 1812 and another that took place in Texas 120 years ago.  Had to do a lot of research to do that.

Then I started writing the Tales from Butternut Creek series and realized I was writing exactly what I knew: a minister in a small town church. The Palm Sunday donkey running away with his rider? I was one of the group that grabbed the animal before he could toss the boy off. A minister’s fear of counseling a member of the congregation? Been there and survived and the woman I counseled did as well. The group of women who run the church? I’ve met them in every church either my husband or I have served and readers tell me they know a Miss Birdie. All the stories, all the embarrassing and funny situations we lived came together in these books and I’ve had such a great time writing them.

Sometimes the memories make me laugh. But members of a congregation suffer, too, and I cried with them. Those hard times made the books, too.

 Of course, I didn’t live through or actually witness everything I wrote. We never lived in a huge Victorian parsonage but I’ve always wanted to—if I didn’t have to do the housework. And I expanded on some of the scenes. In Butternut Creek, the donkey took off down the highway with the kid hanging on his back. In reality, he ran only ten yards although I imagine the boy riding him thought it last far longer.

Have you had an experience you think should be in a book? I’d love for you to share.

4 thoughts on “Where do you get your ideas?

  1. Jane — I write about things I know and sometimes I don’t. I wouldn’t want people to have to read about everything I went through at the end of last year after knee surgery, but I put one scene from that experience in my latest RIP — the scene when the heroine (who had knee surgery and pneumonia) has been in the hospital and skilled nursing for eight weeks and her friend and cab driver is driving her home.

    I stole a story that my late husband used to tell about when he was a teenager and he and his mom and dad were eating out in a restaurant. This was in Book One of the series I just finished so I stole my hubby’s story and gave it to the hero who told it as only he could. I think it turned out pretty funny, but we’ll have to see what happens when the books are finally released.

    1. I definitely agree–using all the details would be a problem. Your long illness was terrible for you and difficult for your friends. I think it’s terrific you were able to steal a story from your husband–I’ve done that!–and work it into your book! Good luck.

      1. Thanks, Jane — I just found a typo in my comment … uh, that should have been my WIP not my RIP.

        It was fun to put that story in Book 1 and give the hero of Book 2 some of my hubby’s quirks. And I had fun using something my cab driver and friend said and putting it in Book 1.

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