Friday, February 16, 2018

Where Story Ideas Come From

The other day, someone asked me where my story ideas come from. Actually, I never considered the exact source. My writing process consists of kicking back, closing my eyes, and daydreaming. 
Abagail Eldan, hard at work.
But, if you really consider the question, our story ideas can never come fully formed. They have to get into our brains, somehow. Just as a calm, clear sky does not produce a storm, neither does an empty brain. Clouds must form, grow heavy with moisture, for the thunder to strike.

The brain must have fuel to "storm."
In the same way, we pluck ideas from the very air around us, forming the makings of a cloud, a vague idea that hopefully becomes a story.

An example of this happened to me recently. For Christmas, I received a DNA kit from Someone in my family had already done a great deal of research on my father's ancestors. I knew my family came into south Alabama at an early time, in the early 1800s, and that my great, great grandfather had been married twice.

The story, how much is true I do not know, had been told to me of a young widow who walked along the dirt road in front of my ancestor's house. This was shortly after the beginning of the Civil War, and this young girl's husband had been killed in one of the first battles.

My great, great grandfather, it was said, had recently been widowed and had a houseful of children. He invited this young woman to be his wife, and she accepted.

This has always struck me as a sad situation. This poor girl had nowhere to turn and ended up on a stranger's doorstep. She made a marriage in exchange for a roof over her head. Knowing the offspring of this great, great grandfather, I believe he was a fine man and did the right thing. The marriage, I believe, was a happy one.

However, this is not even the most interesting part of the story. On my family tree I notice something unusual. My great, great grandfather is listed as the father of this young widow's daughter, born before my ancestor's first wife died!

Several explanations can be formulated for this. This young widow may have had the daughter before traveling down that dirt road. My grandfather, compassionate man that he was, may have claimed his wife's daughter as his own. And, yes, that's the explanation I've most comfortable with. 

But other scenarios present themselves, story ideas waiting to be explored.

Time to find the hammock, to close my eyes, and daydream of the endless possibilities!

Abagail's latest book, Melly, Unyielding, will be free tomorrow, for one day only. Grab your copy tomorrow! Melly, Unyielding is book 4 in the Lockets & Lace series from the authors of the Sweet Americana blog!

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  1. Wow! This is a unique premise for a story, Abigail. So many possiblilites. Maybe a man assautled her and she became pregnant. Then her relatives threw her out of their home.

    I also, have an interesting premise my cousin discovered in our ancestry. My great-great-great grandfather was found as a 3-year-old, wandering around in the mountains near the Cumberland Gap. The wagon train master (William Tims, who was Irish), took him in and adopted him. This means all these years believing I was Irish, bit the dust. I wish I knew what my "real" maiden name was. The only way I could do that would be go back in time.

    1. DNA. You may not find your ancestor, but you may find his nationality.

  2. Laurean, yes, that would make a great story! And yes, your DNA can give you a great deal of information.

    My DNA results were a surprise to me. It turns out I have more western Europe blood than English, Irish, or Scottish. Specifically, it turns out, German.

  3. The joy of learning and the joy of research are gold mines for the writer and creative. Doris