Friday, October 15, 2010

The Story Behind the Story

Someone once said, “Every book has a story behind it,” and I believe it. I recently started a discussion thread on Amazon, asking other writers to share their story behind their book. I got a ton of responses ranging from alien abduction, and abuse to a longing to come home. They were all interesting narratives about the inspirational moment when they decided to write their book.

I’ve had many of those moments, but honestly, most of them were ideas that simply popped into my head for no good reason. However, some of my book ideas were inspired by meaningful moments in my life…and one of them was a scary moment. That’s right. It was, dare I say, a Stephen King moment that inspired me to write a grizzly short story that I published in the Kindle store.

What happened you ask? Well, I took my family camping this summer fully expecting a weekend of nice weather. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for us. After setting up camp and roasting some hotdogs, the sunny weather took a dark and windy turn. A storm blew in and we were ushered into a camp store cellar (compliments of the Park Ranger) with the other vacationers. It was cramped and cold and my kids began asking about the other campers, wondering if they were safe, which was ironic because I was wondering the same thing. At that point, I couldn't resist, the storyteller in me weaved the terrifying tale of  The Rumblin' by spontaneously creating fictional characters out of the other campers. It was a priceless moment seeing the frightened looks on my kids faces after learning that the little old lady with the poodle was packin’ heat! 

The point is, stories always come from somewhere: dreams, nightmares, experiences, questions, etc. But the real test of a writer’s gumption is his or her ability to plot and draft and organize those ideas into characters and a setting that has meaning, and an emotional impact on the reader. And that’s where creativity and a personal attachment to the book come into play. I find that the more meaningful the idea is to me, the more interested I am in taking the idea all the way to completion. For example, Killing the Giants, was inspired after hours of shop talk and debate over who is really running our country, and 20th (not yet published), was birthed because I wondered what would become of children effected by school shootings such as the Columbine massacre. And I have others – a black book full of ideas actually.

So if you ever have a good idea for a book, just send out a telepathic message and I’ll let you know what I think. Or, you could jot it down and start your own black book – a black book of dreams and nightmares and questions and… those precious moments in your life that you don’t ever want to forget. BOOM!


  1. Nice Jeff - scare the crap out of the kids! It's what I would do too. LOL Seriously, ideas come from so many places. For me, it's stories I've heard from friends & family. I have "fuel" for many books, and even a series, if I ever put my fingers to it. When I was in high school, I started writing my ideas down in notebooks (usually my school ones that I should have been taking class notes in). A few years back, I started converting those ideas onto 3 x 5 notecards and organizing them into a notecard holder. Each tab is labeled per book idea, and then any idea I come up with pertaining to that "book" is written on a card and put behind that tab. Sometimes it's just a phrase I hear, or another story I hear about a family member, or even a song I want to reference for some reason. Someday I hope to do something with all these notes & ideas, but even if I don't it brings me great pleasure to have a place to put them instead of keeping them hidden in my head.

  2. I liked it. didn't scare me and I'm kid at heart. where do you sign up for this blog


  3. Hi Arthur,
    You scroll down and look to the left. Then you click on the "Follow" link. Maybe I should place that closer to my daiy post! Thanks for dropping by!


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