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, August 17, 2012

Writing with Your Eyes Wide Open

Photo by rrezendes/stockxchng.com

by Beth K. Vogt

“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas a every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” ~ Orson Scott Card (1951-), American author

I’m writing this blog post on Thursday, August 16, at 3:41 PM (MST). I know this for a fact because I just checked my iPhone, which happens to be smarter than I am.

Since it’s midday, I’ve walked past at least 500 story ideas today – at least in Orson Scott Card’s estimation.

How many new story ideas did I jot down so far?


And yet … as I’ve gone through my day today did I even look for potential story ideas?


So let me mentally back up and scroll through Thursday (so far) and see if I can come up with a few story ideas. Orson Scott Card doesn’t say they have to be great story ideas … just ideas.
Here goes:
Jo, the adorable puppy
  1. My daughter has a new puppy, Jo. She’s adorable. And Jo, in all her cuteness, has this droll habit of picking up pine cones and carrying them in her mouth whenever we go on a walk. So … if I were a children’s author maybe I could come up with a story about a puppy and a pine cone.
  2.  Here’s something straight out of the news: Thursday was the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death and thousands of devotees converged on Graceland to remember the singer. What if I wrote a story about a young woman who was roped into helping her mom get to Graceland to take part in an Elvis memorial … and what if there was an Elvis impersonator involved … Wait. Has this been done?
  3.  Oh, here’s one compliments of USAToday.com: Actress Jenny McCarthy broke up with Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher saying they decided “to turn our romance into an amazing friendship.” Doesn’t that sound like a contemporary romance novel premise?

For the sake of word count (any of the Ponderers will tell you I am a Word Count Counter), I am stopping with three story ideas. But I have to say that Mr. Card gave me lots to think about – and reason to walk through my days with my writer-eyes wide open.

What about you? What story ideas did you miss yesterday? Or what story ideas have you walked by today?


  1. I work with children on a daily basis, so I'm sure I'm losing out on hundreds of story ideas. Reading your post reminded me how I've gotten story ideas from my dreams. That thought reminded me of my dream from last night about an auction. I'm not using it as a story idea, but I will use it as the opening scene for my new book--scrapping the opening scene that just wasn't working and starting fresh with this one. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  2. Oh, Lisa, love this! An auction for the setting of your opening scene -- great idea.
    And now ... what does an auction mean when you dream about one?


  3. I really love this post. Sometimes, I do see a nugget of an idea but I don't know where to go with it. I'm going to start jotting some down and let them percolate. And that Elvis story, well hang on to it. You might want to release a novel in time for the 40th anniversary of his death. ;-)

    1. Great idea, Roxanne -- and it ties into the whole "what anniversaries are coming up that you could write about" question.
      And this post also ties into the one you wrote about mulling being an important part of writing!

  4. Oh Beth, thanks for the reminder. This is something I don't think I've very good at, but all it takes is a little practice and concentrated effort! I think the ideas you came up with have potential. Wink!

  5. I know I walk by lots of ideas. Every now and then, one blips on the radar of my day. I need to establish the habit of looking for those ideas.

    From yesterday: What if a wooden bear hand carved by a woman's grandfather is stolen out of her front yard. What if there was something hidden inside it that she needed back? (saw a sign in our neighborhood yesterday something to the effect of: "Please return our hand carved bear to our front yard. We miss him." I don't remember the wording, but sadness poured through the words, making ne feel for the family....) ;) Probably not enough to build a story on, but perhaps good for a scene or two. :)

    Kids are pulling on me, so it's time to sign off. I'll be looking for ideas today.

  6. Hi, Amy!
    Ya know, at least one of those ideas is still hanging around my brain today ...

  7. Great ideas. Your blog pic made me think about that age-old question, should/do people kiss, and/or pray, with their eyes open. A young woman sociology major could do experiments and survey counts and then get wrapped up enough in her own romance (and/or committed prayer life) to lose count and quit thinking about it.

  8. Beth,

    Hmm, we are getting quotes to cut down three huge trees in our backyard. What about if a tree fell and injured someone dearly loved by the heroine? What if a few years later she discovered the person she was falling in love with was related to the person responsible? Too cliche?

    Alena T.

  9. Not too cliche, Alena ... but what if a woman took over her dad's tree trimming business and dealt with opposition ... or fell in love with her competitor ... you could have a lot of fun with this ...

  10. Oh, I've got one! What if a writer, chained to her desk until she finished the dratted synopsis, broke free and...and went to the fair!

    Guess you can tell what I did yesterday. :-)

  11. I love it ... I haven't been to the fair in forever. I bet you were surrounded by stories, Pat!

    Or wait ... did you stay chained to your desk?

    Go to the fair!

  12. I spent the day with my sweet daughter who is unbelievably good to me. I would have to change her character terribly to get a story out of it...she's just doing it to get money out of me...no, she's making plans to buy a house so I can live with her some day. She wants to take care of me in my old age. Maybe the gardner who came to mow is planning an attack...