10 January 2012


 I’m often asked where I get my story ideas.  To tell you the truth, they can come from anywhere and at the most unexpected times.  It pays to carry a notebook and pen with you.  Needless to say, I didn’t have one when the idea for The Fourth String popped into my head because I was listening to a symphony at the Sydney Opera House.  An odd time and place to be thinking about murder but there you are, I’m probably a bit odd and my imagination is persistent.  I haven’t decided who will be murdered, but the fourth string of a cello is the murder weapon.

You can build a story from a thought, an experience, a fleeting event, in fact anything at all.  Once the spark is there your imagination can run rampant.  You are on your way.  And don’t be surprised if that initial idea gets buried or changed as your story takes shape.  This happened to me when I wrote The Celtic Dagger.  My idea came from a news item I heard one day about a scientist whose car was found on a bridge.  The keys were still in the car, but the scientist wasn’t to be found.  (I’ve often wondered what happened to that poor man.)  With that one news item I started writing, but the scientist became an archaeologist and the bridge turned into stolen artefacts.

So, what does this tell you?  Don’t dismiss anything you see or hear because it might be the spark for your masterpiece!

Where do your story ideas come from?


  1. Most my story ideas pop up when I'm laying in bed and trying to sleep. It usually starts with an image of my main character appears in my head and I'm told he/she has a story to tell me. Sometimes dreams too.

  2. I was going to say the same thing Patricia said - the creative stuff all comes to me when I try to fall asleep or when I first wake up.

  3. Thanks Patricia and Erin for your comments. You're right. Story ideas do pop up when we are lying in bed and especially when we have just woken up. I suppose our minds aren't as full of clutter at that time of day.

  4. I agree with you- great ideas are everywhere. You never know what could turn into the next story. I often think news stories are a good place to start because so many crazy things happen! I liked finding out where you got the idea for the Celtic Dagger!


  5. Hi Jess, Yes, news stories are a great source. I wonder what happened to that scientist.