Folks will sometimes ask writers where they get the ideas for their stories. The answers can be as varied as the people who give them. Whether it be news stories, articles, or personal experiences, anything can spark an idea. I like to misquote Dante: “I am, therefore I think.”
The real challenge is coming up with stories other people want to read. Now it’s true that the best writing can be something the author would like to read, and authors are people, too (gasp!). But how do you determine if a story has momentum or you’ve just grown close to it because the characters have become your imaginary friends?
(Confession: I have lots of those.)
Multi-culturalism and genre-blending are the trends these days, but the constant that remains in good story telling is creating a conflict that draws readers in and keeps them wanting to find out what happens next.
The point of contention doesn’t have to always be a life-or-death scenario. If the characters become imaginary friends to the readers, you’ve developed another incentive to keep them turning the pages (or swiping the screen). Internal conflict is something we can all identify with, while outsmarting aliens is a bit foreign to most of us.
Would others want to read your story? Back away from your creation and contemplate it as someone just passing through, looking for something to intrigue them. If somebody else wrote this, would you still want to read it?
Yes, it’s a subjective exercise, which is why you hear accounts of best-selling authors getting rejected up-teen times before some publisher realizes that manuscript is gold. Of course, if we could all agree on what we like and dislike, that would probably just make it easier for the aliens to dominate us.
If you should decide, “Hmm, that might not really fly,” don’t give up. Maybe it would work in combination with another idea. Maybe it can still provide a seed for a completely different story. As long as you’re capable of cooking up aliens as imaginary friends (or worst enemies?), you can always serve up a story.