The Quirky and the Cringeworthy by Ann Haywood Leal

Louis L’Amour said, “Ideas are everywhere.  There are ideas enough in any daily newspaper to keep a man writing for years.  Ideas are all about us, in the people we meet, the way we live, the way we travel, and how we think about things.”

Sure they are, Louis.  But the trick is in getting them to emerge and swirl like a magic tornado into an idea.  We all seek that moment – that epiphany – when the trickle of an idea turns into a story. 

I think the “idea” process is the part of writing that I love most.  One thing that is important for me is to keep myself open to new ideas –not just at the brewing, beginning stages of a story or book, but throughout my writing.  This is what rounds out my characters as I go, and what fills up my story, as a whole.

A lot of that is paying attention to the small nuances of life.  I love to notice little quirks in strangers, and put them into my story.  How do I know if they’re worthy of the story?  They hang around in my head for a good while.  It might be that phrase I can’t stop thinking about.  That phrase might become a line for one of my characters, or even a first line for a new story.  I might hear someone say something in a crowded coffee shop.  It makes me wonder, or smile, or cringe, and I have to write it down.  And when that happens to you, be sure to do that—write it down.

You might notice a detail of a setting as you are out driving or walking.  It stands out to you in some way—maybe you can completely picture your character there … so you try it.  Write that setting or that setting detail into your story and see where it takes you.  Maybe that small detail will blow up and become a beginning or create an epiphany that will take your book in a completely different direction.

Happy New Year!


  1. I'm a TOTAL idea junkie. I agree it's by far the best part...


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