Character and story ideas come from the strangest places, especially for me. Here’s how I got the inspiration of who a character in my current WIP novel was.
Early this summer I was at the bookstore thinking about the Coneheads and laughing to myself (doesn’t everyone still think about the Coneheads?), when I saw the book, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares. Before I could help myself, my mind threw them together and I said to my husband,
“I come from Pants!”
At which point I started cracking up, he couldn’t figure out what I was laughing about, and the rest of the people in the store were looking at me like I was a lunatic. Ever since then, I can’t stop saying, “I come from Pants!” It totally kills me every time. Not only that, but it’s a phrase that works for almost any occasion. Try it, you’ll see.
Then a month or so ago, we were walking by a flower store and I said, “I come from Plants!” and started laughing. Even DH was laughing, but mostly because he couldn’t believe I was still on the Coneheads thing. Whenever I see France, Pants, or Plants now, I totally lose it. Poor hubby.
So what does this all have to do with writing and my WIP novel? (Yes, there is a point, promise.)
* Story ideas and characters are all around us. You never know what’s going to spark your imagination or how far that spark will take you. If something makes you laugh or cry or scream, take notice. If you can put together two things that don’t belong and get something new, even better. Someday that might be the seed of an idea that helps you write a story.
* An important character in my novel didn’t have a past, which made it hard to figure out who he was in the story. From thinking about a phrase that I first heard in 1977 and seeing a book I want to read, I figured out that my character has strong connection to plants. Not only that, but the plants are important to the plot. My character likes to say to me, “I come from France, wearing my Plot Pants!” (No, that’s not in my story. Yes, do I know I’m strange. I prefer to think of myself as creative.)
Here’s a recap of how a character in my novel became complex, three-dimensional, and important to the plot:
France -> Pants -> Plants -> Plot and Past -> Pizzazz!
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist pizzazz; I wanted to use another P word.)
Remember this phrase when you’re trying to figure out who your characters are: “I come from Pants!” Or just say it at random times because it’s funny.
p.s. It’s October 6, only 25 more days until Halloween!!!