Recently a news article appeared online about some artifacts that were discovered in the walls of Buckingham Palace during some rewiring of the Queen’s estate. Newspapers from 1889 and cigarette from the 19th century were among the items that were recovered by the construction crews.
As I was finishing up edits on a story that includes a similar idea–the possibility of finding hidden items in the walls of an old home and its impact on the main character–I was particularly tickled to read the Buckingham Palace news story. I had heard of other incidents over the years of people finding items that had been forgotten and tucked away either purposefully or accidently and I often wondered what if I found something like this, how would I react.
This unanswered question served as part of the motivation for my new story. It is essentially what writing teachers mean when they suggest that you “write what you know.”
They aren’t asking that you write about your actual real life. Rather they are reminding you that every story a person writes is inspired—consciously or unconsciously—by something that the writer has heard, seen or experienced.
Ideas are all around you, but it doesn’t mean that each idea has the legs for being its own story. Nor does it mean that you should follow the story exactly as it unfolded.
This is where you as a writer come in and “take what you know” and spin it to create a fictional work that people will want to read.
WRITING EXERCISE: Think about story you heard recently that you haven’t been able to get out of your head. Play the “what if” game and jot down a couple of non-factual scenarios that you come to mind based on this story.
Find the kernel, the gem of an idea that intrigues you most and use it as a springboard to your next story!
Comment Below: What ideas have inspired your latest works?