I write science fiction and fantasy – sometimes a combination of both in the form of scifantasy. I also write the occasional short horror story.  The first time I was asked from where I got ideas, I’d never really thought about it.  I would just get one and off I’d go writing.

I guess I kind of figured I was pulling them all out of thin air.  Until I stopped to think about it.  Though I admit that there has been the occasion when an image has appeared in my head for no reason I can see and nagged me until I wrote a story about it, most of my ideas didn’t just hit me up side my head from out of nowhere. Nope, once I thought about it, I saw they were coming from a number of places.  Of course, an idea for a story can come from just about anywhere but here is a list of the most common sources for me (and, so far, I’ve never run out of ideas).


It can be just a snippet.  The first book I wrote, “Boucher’s World: Emergent”, (science fiction dealing with the interactions between a group of humans, cats, dogs, and a race of giant aliens, all with psychic abilities and trapped together for two thousand years) came about because of a dream.

What was the dream?  Well, it was about a girl, or young woman, who worked for a pest company, and her partner was a cat.  They lived in a city covered by a dome.  That was it (don’t ask me why I’d dream something like that! I’ve had even stranger ones!).  The rest of the story sort of worked its way from there.

It was actually supposed to be one book but by the time I got through I had a whole series, which consists of a trilogy, a novel, two novellas, two novelettes, and a short story, and it’s a series because as I wrote, I realized it was becoming ‘way too long for one book.


Everyday life, especially recent or current events, is always good fodder for a nice yarn.  I’ve written a number of drabbles (a story written in exactly one hundred words), and some are based on an actual event, such as “Once Upon a Spider”, taken from an encounter with an orb weaver by one of my daughters.  Or the time I opened my washing machine and found I’d forgotten to check my jean pockets, resulting in another drabble, “Tatters”.


For a while, I entered in a short story writing contest where the five-hundred-word-or-less story has to be written around a given image.  It was quite an enjoyable exercise (only won once, a second place win, “A Moment in Time” but it was fun doing them).  And, you don’t have to enter a contest to use visual prompts, any image will do.  For instance, I  got the idea for my “Cady and Sam” werewolf series from seeing a picture of my house juxtaposed with one of a large, wolfish dog.


The drabble, “Noise”, is based on the fact that I have tinnitus, though I suppose that could also be considered a life event.


The drabble, “Martin’s Café”, came about from the delicious aroma of bacon wafting up to my room one morning when my daughter was cooking breakfast (nuff said!).


(Which could also be considered a life event but I kind of separate the two when the event was a very long time ago.) In the case of the series on which I’m currently working, the idea came from a memory.  No, I don’t remember having been a dragon (but wouldn’t it be totally cool if I did?), but I’ve found that sometimes a little of myself gets into my stories. I remembered being three years old (I know I was that age because I asked my mother about it once, and she verified my age at the time), and having a bad case of eczema. I spent some time looking as though I was covered in scales.  Added to that was a period a time during which I felt alienated from everyone (for reasons I won’t go into here) and ran away from home when I was twelve (hmm…someday I might get around to writing my autobiography…nah, writing fiction is much more fun!).  Anyway, from those memories came the idea of the Spaceships and Magic series, the first book being  “Turner: Bitter Change”, the story of Juri Turner, the human-born dragon (I’ve written four books in the series and at the moment I’m working on book five).


The thing is, story ideas can come from anywhere and these are six examples of from where some of mine have come.  Always try to keep a pencil and pad handy.  That way, when an idea hauls off and slaps you in the face, you’ll be ready.  Believe me, there’s nothing sadder – or more frustrating – than knowing you had a good idea for a story but now you can’t remember it and you didn’t write it down.

They don’t always pan out (sometimes it’s a really bad idea) but all the same, it doesn’t hurt to write it down.

Just in case.