I get character ideas by people watching. I travel quite often, and while I really detest the whole traveling experience, I use my time wisely—I watch people. I study them. Yes, even been known to snap a picture of one with my cell phone because of a certain hairstyle, or quirk, or expression. All of this information filters down and finds its way into a character. Some of my favorite character traits used have been gleaned from strangers in an airport.
Newspapers, television, and yes, even those true-crime shows all provide fodder for my plots. No, I don’t see something or read about it and then just change minor events for my story. I play a game called what-if. For example, I’ll hear a story about a woman who shot her husband for having an affair. My mind starts the game: What if the woman had hired a private detective to get the “goods” on her husband? What if the private detective had a grudge against the husband for some wrong years ago? What if the man wasn’t having an affair, but the private detective made it look like he was, just so his wife would kill him? Oh, what if the woman didn’t even suspect her husband was having an affair, but this guy who had a grudge against the husband pretended to be a private detective and sent incriminating evidence to the wife? . . . and so my mind goes.
I even get ideas from the medical magazines you read in waiting rooms at doctors’ offices. For instance, the germ of an idea for the last book in the Justice Seekers series came about while reading a medical article on familial DNA. I started playing What If again…what if someone committed a crime and familial DNA helped solve the crime? And thus the last book of the series was born: STRAND OF DECEPTION.
Ideas are everywhere, you just have to look for them. Now, back to the what-if game… What if a writer was on tight deadline? What if she kept playing on email and the internet instead of making her word count? What if . . .
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