Where Do My Story Ideas Come From?

I did an article a while ago about how I developed my film Line of Taxis. That film grew out of plan to develop my skills as a filmmaker in combination with a desire to express some feelings I struggled with at the time. The article was a useful exercise for me since it helped me understand how I created a story.

However, on other projects I used different approaches. One approach I found useful was to build stories from things that captivated my imagination. In some cases these were other stories and in others they were events in the real world.

Normally when I read a story, watch a TV show or watch a movie, I don’t question the decisions the creator made. From time to time, I did find myself thinking: “If they had done … it would have been better.” I couldn’t change what they had done, so it was just idle speculation. Later I took some of these ideas and used them in my own stories.

An example of this is my story A Homicide Detective’s Rude Awakening. I got the inspiration for that story from an episode of Law and Order. In the final scene of the episode, Lenny Briscoe arrives at his daughter’s murder scene. He arrives at the scene already knowing that his daughter was the victim. I thought it would be more powerful if he didn’t know. The emotional distance from the victim that he had careful constructed would be destroyed when he recognized his daughter.

Sometimes I draw ideas from real events. An example of this is my story A Woman Alone in a Cruel World. I saw a documentary about a woman who became a rebel leader in China. When she was a young girl, her family had given to a troupe of performers. I wondered if, when she became famous, her mother knew she was her daughter. Did they ever reunite? How would they feel if they did?

In a biography of John Lennon I read that his mother had three children, all girls, after John was born. She put the first girl up for adoption because she wasn’t married at the time. I find it intriguing that out there somewhere is a woman who is John Lennon’s sister, but doesn’t know she is. She would have been of an age where she would likely have been a Beatles fan, so she would know a great deal about him. How would she feel if she found out? I haven’t developed this idea into a story yet.

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