Where do you get your ideas for your novels and short stories?

That’s a question I get asked a lot. I think lots of authors, especially aspiring ones, are scared that one day they’ll run out of ideas for future stories.

So how do you make sure the writing well is always full?

Ideas are everywhere so you constantly have to be looking for them. Sometimes you overhear a conversation that might spark an idea for a story. It could even be an ad in a magazine that makes you think…now wouldn’t that make a wonderful story.

One thing I did early on in my career was make a writing idea book. Nothing fancy, just a small notebook like the ones you can find online or at the dollar store. (I’ll tell you why I go with a smaller size in a minute)

As soon as an idea pops into my head I make a note of it. It could be that exact snippet of conversation I overheard…yeah, it pays to be an eavesdropper or it might be notes on the ad I saw.

Other things that have been jotted down in this book include lines of dialogue I’ve thought about. Sometimes I’ve no idea whose mouth they’ll come out of but when I’m a creating a story I’ve often matched it up to a character who I think would say such a line.

Another thing I’ve been adding to my notebook over the years is cuttings. When I read through magazines and newspapers I tear out articles I find fascinating. Maybe it’s a story about someone and their unusual career or a travel piece that might come in useful for a setting for a story. I’ve had one taped in the notebook since the late 80s that’s now brown around the edges. I haven’t used it yet but it’s waiting in the wings.

I recommend a small notebook and that’s because you can take it anywhere. In your purse, in a backpack, even in your pocket. Ideas pop into your head at all times of the day so if you’re running errands, waiting for your plane or bus, you have it ready to start jotting down all the ideas that will eventually become stories.


Do you have a writing question you’d like answered or what to see a specific topic covered in the Writer’s Room in 2018? Leave a comment and let me know.

Susan Palmquist is the author of 100 plus books including writing instruction, lifestyle, romances and mysteries. Under her pen name, Vanessa Devereaux, she writes erotic romances and erotica.

Since 2010 she’s been tutoring aspiring authors and offering workshops through various chapters of Romance Writers of America. She recently launched a mentoring/coaching service for both aspiring and established writers. You can learn more about Susan and her work at www.susanpalmquist.com www.vanessadevereaux.com and her writing blog at www.thiswriterslife.com

Contact Susan about her coaching/mentoring service at susanpalm2010@gmail.com

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