I see this question asked over and over again by writers, readers, and aspiring writers. I've always found this hard to answer when I'm asked this in an interview. So, I did some introspection to try and find out what it is that gives me a story starter.
As I've proclaimed many times, I'm a true pantster. If I plot and outline, you can just bet I won't ever write that particular story. There's something about the process that freezes my brain and stifles my creativity. So, what is it that gives me the idea for a story? It's a mood, a feeling, something I absorb into my mind when I look out the window of my office or my car.
Today, the sky is dark, there is a breeze blowing the trees, and lone bird sits on a wire. No cars are moving, nothing else is stirring. This pulls my mind into a scene of being all alone. I feel a woman who is at the depths of despair over something that has happened or is about to happen. Then I begin typing out what emotions I'm feeling and believe it or not, scene develops. My story builds around this scene. I don't yet know where the story might go, but I do have a deep-rooted awareness of my heroine.
There's nothing magical, nothing formulaic, just a dumping of what comes into my brain. Hmm, perhaps that is magical to someone who plots.
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