If there's one question writers dread, it's this one: Where do you get your ideas? The problem isn't that we don't know the answer--rather, that it's so difficult to explain the answer to someone who doesn't see the world in the same way we do. (I was tempted to say, "the same screwy way" but didn't!) I understand that Speculative Fiction authors get a even more difficult question--where do you get your crazy ideas?! One well-known author is rumored to answer that--"Why, from a crazy idea factory in Schenectady, of course!"
This weekend I had a terrific example of this from my ten-year-old granddaughter. We were having hot chocolate in Barnes and Noble after book browsing when she whispered, "Don't look around, but I think that man and lady just got bad news."
Exercising super-human effort not to look, I asked, "Why do you think so?"
Georgia answered, "Because he was looking at his e-mail, and his face got real tight, and then it turned red. And he said something to the lady, and she looked like she was going to cry."
Doesn't it raise questions in your mind? A writer friend, to whom I told this story, suggested that we write the story so we could find out what news the man received! Okay--that's how a writer looks at life, and I expect in a few years, the world will be hearing from our Georgia.
So that's the real answer to the question. There are story nuggets all around us every day, but only a writer notices them and starts weaving a story from them.
If you're not a writer and want to know what it feels like, I'd suggest spending a day just really noticing the people and events around you. Let yourself wonder, the way a child does. Give your imagination a chance to begin weaving a story. You'll surprise yourself with the results!
Marta (proud grandmother of six)