That’s one of the most common question writers hear. The simple answer is ideas are everywhere–in overheard snatches of conversation, in dreams, in what you read, in the sight of a woman standing on a pier.
What those asking the question fail to understand is an idea is not a novel or even a short story. An idea is merely a starting point. It must be nurtured like a seed to achieve maturity and become something more. It’s like turning up the heat under a pot of water.
Some ideas fizzle out before making that transition to something else. The best, the ones that reach maturity, are nourished by imagination, experience and lengthy periods of consideration. Sometimes ideas are rejected when we realize all we’ve done is mimic something that already exists; unless you can put a stamp of originality on it, it may not be worth pursuing. They shine when you realize you have something unique.
The best ideas take time to evolve. John Fowles recorded how the genesis of his French Lieutenant’s Woman began with nightmares and images of a haunted woman which persisted until he had to know her story.
Seldom do such stories arrive complete in a single flash of inspiration.
An idea of mine led to The Tithing Herd, a new Western, released July 25 by Sundown Press. Here’s the blurb:
When an ex-lawman Lute Donnelly sets out on the trail of the ruthless gang of outlaws who murdered his brother, revenge is his only desire. But when he stumbles upon Tom Baskin, a youngster who has been duped into helping the outlaws and then left behind, Lute reluctantly takes the boy under his wing–and begins to find his humanity again.
United in a common cause, the pair travel a dangerous trail in search of revenge and redemption. But when Serene McCullough, the widow Donnelly loves, begs him to help her son move the cattle herd gathered by cash-strapped Mormons as their church tithe, he can’t refuse her.
When the cutthroat gang kidnaps Serene to bargain for The Tithing Herd, Lute and Tom find themselves pitted against insurmountable odds–with unexpected help coming from an old friend.
Lute’s desire for vengeance is trumped by his desperation to save the woman he loves at all costs–if he can live long enough to do it…
Bio: A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 15 novels and a non-fiction regional history. Since retiring, he has served as librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. He lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill Cody. His short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society, where he served a term as vice president. You are invited to visit his website at: http://www.jrlindermuth.net.