People ask, “Where do you get the ideas for your stories?” The answer is, “From real life.” I write fiction, so I can not simply transcribe what is happening in the world, but the basic concept usually comes from something in life. My imagination takes it from there and turns it into fiction.
This weekend, my wife and I were in Texas to cheer on our children (both in their 40’s) as they rode in the MS150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. This is not a race, it is a fundraising event to raise money for the fight against multiple sclerosis (MS). The MS Society requires each rider to raise support pledges. Imagine 15,000 bikes all going on the same road at the same time. The stream of bikes stretches for miles. It is an awesome sight. They register slightly over 13,000 riders. To that they add ride marshals on bikes (red shirts), volunteer registered police officers on bikes (blue shirts) and volunteer EMTs on bikes (orange shirts).
The finish line is about three blocks from the state capital building with bikers riding under an arch toward the capital. The bikers are directed for the next block between crowds of cheering spectators. They make a turn and go two more blocks, past more cheering supporters, to the dispersal areas.
It sounds a lot like the finish to the Boston Marathon, doesn’t it? Thus as we packed on the 15th, for our long drive to Texas, I was shocked to hear of the bombing at the Boston Marathon finish line.
Even so, my wife and I stood in the crowd at the turn, one block after the finish line and waited first for our son and then our daughter to ride down the celebration lane. It occurred to me that someone copying the Boston bombing would likely plant a bomb right at that corner. If there had been such a bomb, we would have either been victims or survivors who made t0urniquets of our belts to staunch the bleeding of the injured around us while waiting for medical help to arrive.
So we had two public events in the past week and my imagination went to work. The hero of my story could be a marathon runner who reluctantly gets recruited to ride the MS150. Sure, he is in good condition, but it hurts to ride a bike very far. Nevertheless he does the ride. Of course, there is the possibility of a heroine his age who he might meet on the course. She might provide the encouragement he needs to make it to the finish line. If I make him a widower, sparks might fly as they ride side by side for 150 miles. If this is the case, he would be protective of the woman.
So far, my imagination has only come up with a mushy romance, but what if a bomb goes off just as they ride, side by side, around that corner? Does he save her life? Does she save his life? Do they get separated? Perhaps one is injured, and the other flees. Will they get together again, and how? Perhaps one or both saw the bomb moments before it exploded. As potential witnesses, will the bad guys want to rub them out? My imagination gives me all this material and a lot more.
Read my next book to find out how it comes out.
Seriously, I haven’t even started writing, but I have the concept for a story that may some day be put on paper. It will be fiction, but it will be stimulated by two real events, the tragedy at the Boston Marathon and a fund raising event called the Texas MS150.
If you aspire to be a writer, observe the life around you and then let your imagination go wild.