I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Writer's Imagination

by Lisa Jordan

Imagination is more important than knowledge. 
For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, 
imagination points to all we might yet discover and create. 
~Albert Einstein

Photo Source

A writer's imagination can be a scary place. Good thing only God can read my thoughts.

I took out the trash late one evening. Shrouded in darkness, shadows loomed in my backyard--the patio furniture and playhouse suddenly becoming sanctuaries for new shapes and lifeforms. Of course, my imagination ran wild. I stared into the blackness for about thirty seconds before rushing inside and locking the door.

Then my imagination shifted into overdrive.

What if a woman went about her daily routine, took the trash outside, and disappeared while her family watched TV inside the house?

I'm not a suspense writer and hate to be spooked, but I figured that one question could ripple into many different directions. When would her family notice she was missing? What happened to the woman? Did she leave on her own accord? Was she forced to flee? Did someone take her? If so, who? Why? What clues would be left behind? How would they begin to search for her?

My imagination went rampant another time while cleaning a mess in the kitchen that involved my Little Darlings and frosting. What if someone tampered with bakery goods and a classroom of children were poisoned? Who would do such a vile thing? What would motivate this person to act this way?

My son recently finished a series by a well-known Christian suspense writer. He was blown away by some of the things in the book and commented to me, "Man, these writers must be pretty messed up to come up with some of this stuff."

I laughed and disagreed with him because I know how a writer's imagination works. One of my favorite writers told of strange looks received while on an airplane--she and her crit partner plotted how to kill someone. She quickly reassured those who overheard that she was a novelist. This woman is one of the sweetest people I've ever met. Not a murderous bone in her body. Her imagination, on the other hand...

So take those musings and twist them into what if story questions. You may be surprised by a new story idea.

Your Turn: What basic musing or real life situation sparked a new story idea? How has your imagination run rampent in the past? Have your own thoughts ever scared you into locking the doors?


  1. I was listening to the news one night and heard a story about someone who'd lost their memory 10 years ago and was only just now reporting it to the police.
    Well, that got me to thinking. Why in the world would anyone lose their memory and not report it?
    What if they woke up and didn't know who they were and there was body in the room with a knife in the chest...and maybe they had a sackful of money... Still working on that book. lol

    Great post, Lisa! Are yousure you're not a suspense writer?

  2. I love that as a writer I get to use my overactive imagination!!

    I was watching an episode of The Waltons, actually, when I got the idea for my first book. In the episode, the youngest daughter was sad because her favorite author died and John-Boy somehow found the author's last half-finished manuscript. Viola, Georgia and my awesome farmer Case and eccentric author J. Cullaway were born. :)

  3. Pat, I watch several crime drama shows, and I love reading romantic suspense, but I don't feel pulled to write it yet. I'm great at letting my imagination run wild though. :) And your book sounds wonderful!

  4. Melissa, I think it's adorable that you got your story idea from The Waltons. I'm looking forward to reading the full story someday. :)

  5. At my first StoryCrafters I suddenly got a picture idea of a young native Amer. youth w/ a bit of a bad history doing something right but getting locked up for it--but leading to being placed in a decent foster home that helped change his life. I don't know where such things come from but I had fun following and writing Raymond's story, though it's yet unpublished.
    I enjoyed a real-life fun story of a parrot being a convincing witness in a murder trial screeching over and over, "Richard, Richard, No-O-O-O!" and it convicted Richard. Hmmm, maybe I should use that somewhere . . .

  6. Years and yaars ago I found a book at the library about German POW camps in Florida. I was so intrigued, I knew I had to write a story about that. When I finally did, the POW camp played a much smaller role than I first anticipated. But I loved the experience and learned that I could write, revise, and polish a full-length manuscript. (It's not published, but perhaps someday...)

  7. I'm with Pat, Lisa. It sounds like you could have a suspense writer's mind. :) Loved your story ideas. I got an idea awhile back after sitting behind a blue pick up truck with three antennae, one of those bumper stickers, "My dog is smarter than your honor student" and a license plate frame extolling the virtue of nurses. I thought, "What kind of woman would drive a pick up truck like this?"

    I also got an idea after talking with a friend about a possible huge life change. Women's fiction possibilities with that one.

    I'm rambling, but I loved your post today. :)

  8. The first book I wrote came from the comment my daughter, Sarah, made about how she used to finish her twin brother's dreams when he woke up with a bad dream. She weave the story into a happy ending so he could go back to sleep. I titled the book "Finisher of Dreams."

  9. I was nodding in agreement and grinning through most of your post. Then I got to this line...

    "Man, these writers must be pretty messed up to come up with some of this stuff."

    ...and laughed out loud!

    I've often wondered just what kind of crazy I am to have an imagination that runs rampant so often.

    There goes a car with a dent in the back fender. Hm. Wonder how they got it? Did they back into a mailbox? Did someone hit them from behind? What if there was a body in the trunk and the trunk popped open when the car was hit and what if....

  10. Oh my goodness, Dee. Having a parrot in a story would be so fun! Imagine the possibilites!

  11. Johnnie, I've found I do more research than what actually goes into the story, but I love learning about different things, so it doesn't go wasted. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience.

  12. Jeanne, you're not rambling! Story sparks are a great way to ignite those ideas that end up becoming published novels. You're right--lots of women's fiction ideas to choose from. I wrote a WF novel based on a dream! I hope to get that story published someday.

  13. Teri, what a fun concept for a book. Is the book ready for submission? What genre is it?

  14. Carrie, those what if questions and why questions are the best ways to get our muses rolling for story ideas. Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us!

  15. Lisa, It was the first book I ever wrote so I call it my "practice book"; however it did final in Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel a few years back. It also convinced me to keep writing and to learn a little more about the process.

  16. This is such a fun post, Lisa.
    Sorry I'm a bit late getting to it.
    I walked out of a bank one day and noticed an armored truck sitting there. I thought, "Ya know, I've never been in a bank robbery, even though I've read about them ..."
    I'm still playing with that story idea.

  17. Teri, I love that! Very sweet.

    LJ, unless I'm in my home, I'm afraid of the dark. Thanks to being a little too imaginative. :-)

    In school I'd always get ideas from random little facts in history classes. Like the trial by ordeal in the ancient germanic tribes, all the women who fought in diguise during the Civil War, etc. Of course, I have yet to write a historical. :-)