One of the writing mysteries that non-writers wonder about is “where do writers get their ideas?”
I can’t speak for EVERY writer, but usually the fiction I write is grounded in something that actually happened. I seldom write about it verbatim, but usually something I’ve experienced is the kernel for a story: I live through something, and then I think “How would (my character or characters) react to this?”
This afternoon is a perfect example. I was at the thrift shop and there was only one register of four open, and I was second person in a line that was maybe five people long. When a second register opened, I turned to my left to see that a pair of women had hopped the line to the front. I said “The line is behind me.” One of the women said “They said they’d help us next” and I said “well, there’s a long line of people who have been waiting longer than you have.”
And the other woman said “WHY DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT YOU?”
I felt stupified, didn’t know what to say to that, but at that point yet another register opened, and I was next in line, so I stepped up as they muttered to themselves.
As soon as I left the thrift shop, first I thought of all the things I would have LIKED to have said to those two women… but then the next thing I thought was “How would this have played out with one of my characters… say… Maura?” My 39 year old mom of two living in Stowe. I started parsing it through: “OK… the thrift shops near Stowe aren’t big enough to have multiple registers, so WHERE would it play out? Kinney Drug has the ‘one line waiting for the next available cashier’ system… so… she would be at Kinney Drug… now… how would her having the kids with her (an 11 year old girl and a six year old boy) have affected her reaction? How would it have played out with not just her, but the kids there, watching this woman jump into the front of the line out of nowhere and giving HER (Maura) crap for pointing it out?”
So that’s where the “Facebook Flash Fiction” piece in the two screenshots below came from.
The first screenshot is pretty much “as it happened,” right up to WHY DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT YOU? and the second is where I took the story in imagination given the characters.
What I’ll DO with it is another question entirely (that’s always the question with these “Facebook Flash Fiction” pieces). It’ll probably end up as a vignette in a longer work, or, if nothing else, in an issue of METANOIA (where I feature a handful of new “flash fiction” pieces every issue).
Anyway… this is just an example of where THIS writer gets ideas… 😉