Where Do You Get Your Writing Prompts?

Writing contests…here comes my manuscript! These past couple of months, I’ve been so wrapped up with finishing the re-writes of my first manuscript, I’ve neglected this blog.

I must admit however, that it was an awesome feeling when I printed the first 50 pages for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award contest, and put that in the mail on May 13.

And what a feeling it was when I finished the re-writes for the remainder of that novel (thanks Stella). I’m now ready to print the whole manuscript and it’s off to Word Alive Press for their publishing contest. Both contests will announce their winners at the end of August and I really look forward to it. Keeping my fingers crossed for both.

Now, I’m ready to start my next story. I have what I think is a great idea and I can’t wait to write it. I know however, it’ll take a lot of work and research because the main protagonist is a teenager with autism. Then again, writing is a lot of work. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Autism is a subject I know very little about. I have to hit the books / internet before I can put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

I found interesting books on the subject, but the biggest eye opener for me so far was the movie Temple Grandin; the story of an autistic woman who become a scientist in the humane livestock handling industry. I watched it, was moved to tears, and I wanted to see it again! I am still awed by it. (Deb, thank you so much for suggesting it). This past week, I called the video store and asked if I could buy the copy I rented. He said yes, and I bought it!

I didn’t really understand what autism was and there are so many different spectrums of it, I had no idea what to expect with this movie. But now, I can’t wait to start my second novel.

The strange thing is though, I have no idea what prompted me to write about autism. Sure, I heard about it before but I can’t say I really knew anything about it until I saw the Temple Grandin movie. And even now, I still don’t know much.

Yet for some reason, I just pictured Brody (main character in my novel) sitting on his bed rocking back and forth, whispering “no! no! no!” as he listens to his father and step-mother in the other room, screaming at each other in the middle of the night.

Sometimes as I write, something I read in a book or saw on TV will come to mind, and it seems, for the moment, like a great idea for my “next move”. I  may or may not keep that idea as the story progresses. Other ideas come from asking someone (usually my dear sweet husband who watches a lot more TV than I do) what he thinks I should do next. He is full of ideas, and I sometimes want to slap his name on the cover when the book goes to print because many of these ideas are his. Sure, I wrote and developed them but they were his ideas in the first place.

Here’s a sneak peek into what I started to write :

Brody lives in a verbally abusive household. His father is a heavy drinker, and when he’s not screaming at or putting Brody down, it’s his wife who gets ‘the blunt end of the stick’ so to speak. Brody decides he’s had enough and runs away in search of his mother. He meets another runaway and . . .

Enough said.  You’ll have to read about it when the book comes out if you wish to know what happens.

Now I need to ask you:

Where do you get your ideas about writing? How do you get inspired? Does it just “happen”, pop in your mind? Is it something you read? Saw on TV?

Please share.




18 thoughts on “Where Do You Get Your Writing Prompts?

  1. Hi Renee,
    Your new idea sounds like a very promising start to a book. I think ideas just pop into my head, I have no idea where they come from. Sometimes a song might set an idea off but that’s rare.

    • Hi Anne and thanks so much for sharing.

      I don’t think I ever got ideas from songs until just recently. I heard a song on CKOE-FM, our local Christian Radio Station and I realized how perfect it was for the title of Brody’s story. It’s strange how I heard it many times before, but it really spoke to me so much more that one particular time.



  2. Hi, Renee Ann:

    I think your story has many, many possibilities. Good luck with it. Just a note: I find research can be a really enjoyable part of writing. You learn so many interesting facts and surprises are everywhere.
    I’ll be looking forward to a signed copy of your book.

    Gail MacMillan

    • Hi Gail and thanks for the comment.

      I really look forward to Aug when they will announce the winners of the publishing contests. Yes I’ve worked hard on this novel, (don’t we all???) but I’ve had so much help, support and encouragement, from the writing groups i belong to, people giving their two cents, editing, proofreading and of course, pushing that i finish the story and get it published.With all this support, how could i not get ahead? And with the new story i’m starting, that too is really awesome.

      What I will never understand is how some people who can’t accept constructive criticism. Stella read the whole thing and gave me a very good critique, Lina had critiqued 20+ pages before that and Norah, well she was my “dictionary” from beginning to end. It was amazing to have that kind of support. Some people from the other writing group i belong to also helped me a lot with POV (Stella helped with that a lot too, I tend to do a lot of head hopping!!!), as well as a few authors, aspired and published, and that was totally amazing. My page of acknowledgement is growing daily. 🙂

      Now, is the novel perfect? Probably not, but it has come a very long way since the first draft.

      Thanks, everyone!


  3. My ideas come to me very slowly. I sort of have to sneak up on them and catch them unawares. LOL. That’s why I have a writing partner most of the time! And that’s why my solo stuff is so slow going. Seriously, I do get a lot from music, the feel or tone or atmosphere of it. Then I can start to build characters and conflict and world. I also like to write characters that are very different from me; the more different, the better. I used to write characters who were much more like me, but they were no fun, avoiding conflict, making peace, etc. Instead, I now write characters who meet conflict head on, or deal with it in more interesting ways. ,-)

    • I like that, Norah. Thanks so much for sharing.

      I love listening to music, and after what happened recently when that one song hit me so hard, giving me the idea for the title of my next story, I want to pay attention to lyrics more closely.

      I always have music on in the house… well, almost always, i have to turn it off while i write. I know people who get inspired from the music they listen to while they write. Kudos to them! That’s something i could never do. I have very short attemtion span, and everything distracts me. Literally! I have to turn off the email program because as soon as the ‘notifier’ alerts me that “i’ve got mail, I switch screen and can easily start reading / replying to email in the middle of a great scene! DUH! LOL I’m getting better at it though.



  4. Renee, so many times when I start to assemble a story, I’m sure I’m on the right track. Then, out of the blue, something happens, someone does or says something and bam! My story changes.
    I’ve actually had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night with a whole new slant on a story I’ve been working on. In fact it happened this morning. Wow! Now to get it written down.
    Thanks for your great post.

    • Thanks Stella

      I too have awaken in the middle of the night with ideas but with my work schedule i can’t get up and write them down, or i’d be sleeping at work. Not a good idea ! !

      I’ve even asked my husband to remember this or that thought so i can write it the next day. Most times between the two of us, we remember! (no i don`t wake him up, I’ll ask only if i know for sure he’s awake!).



  5. Ideas can come from anywhere, but for me they are most often setting related, or news item related. And they come slowly as I sort them out.
    But since I enjoy the process of creating so much, I don’t worry about them.
    Barbara Phinney

    • Love it. I love getting ideas from the news too…

      mind you, with what’s happening lately, earthquakes, tornades, floods, and many other natural disasters, wow, sometimes, it’s hard to get ‘good ideas’ from that.

      These things are eye openers, reminding us how truly blessed we are in this day and age, and to always be thankful for the great things we got. I so often get taken in by what i see on TV, I end up bawling. I thank God daily for all that He’s given me.

      But yes, there are often great ideas on the news, i have to agree to that. Thanks Barb.


  6. Hi Renee-Ann, Sorry to be so late in replying. My dat job keeps me busy these days. My salon has many stories to tell! But I do get inspired in the early morning hours. Good luck with your contest, Doris-Lee

    • Thanks Doris. And no worries. There is no deadline 🙂

      I wish I could get inspired in the mornings. I have trouble opening my eyes for the first hour or so! 🙂 But when I get started, sometimes I wish time would stop and give me time to put all my thoughts down.

      There’s not enough hours in a day, but my sister once said, if there were 36 hours, she believes we’d still have too much too do and not enough time to do it. I believe she’s right.



  7. Hi Renee-Ann,
    Nice blog! Wish I could keep mine going…
    I get a lot of my story ideas from snippets of news programs, songs, misread words in others writing, etc.
    I have also been told that I “think weird”. Great for writing paranormal stories! As it was my brother saying it, I replied that it runs in the family (big grin).

    • Good morning Dawn, and thanks for your comment.

      I’m having fun with this blog when I have time to write.

      Misread words in writing! Now that’s very interesting. I have seen many ideas but first time for this one. I like it.

      I think we all get weird ideas from time to time… well ok, maybe not all of us do but I know I do! ! ! The timing is what gets me. It’s not so much what ideas I get, but when I get them. I mentioned in another post that I sometimes get them in the middle of the night. That happened last night, and I was so happy when I remembered it this moring. I with i had written it down immediately because now that I’m sitting here, I forget what it was! Hopefully it will come back to me!

      Have a blessed day.


  8. Another latecomer! Interesting blog, Renee- Ann. My story ideas usually start with a small germ of an idea and develop from there. Often I’ll start with a character, and as my stories are character driven I need to know my main characters well before I see where the story is going.

    • Hi Kate !

      Character Driven. I like that too. Wow, there’s been a great variety of ideas. I’m surprised that no one said they use prompts.

      Last year, Stella introduced me to a book called The Writer’s Book Of Matches. Very interesting little book with 1001 prompts.

      I didn’t have it yet when I wrote Stella’s Plea, but at one of the writers’ groups I belong to, we had to bring 3 prompts one night. Two of us forgot, and when asked for them, we opened the book and read whatever prompt was on the page in front of us. It did serve a purpose. It is a fantastic little book.

      Most of Stella’s Plea started with a small idea and developped from there (hubby helped when i got stuck)! But that story was for NaNoWriMo, and if I wanted to write 50,000 words in 30 days, I had to write on the spur of the moment . There was definitely no time to do research or even edit as I wrote. But it was so much fun.

      Blessings and thanks for sharing.


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