Reading fiction helps me hone my writing craft. I learn best by examples, seeing how successful authors bring their worlds, stories, and characters to life. What writing techniques and literary devices do they use to draw readers into their story. But how do they come up with their ideas to write the story in the first place? Some share their strategy. Others keep it a secret. I have been asked before where I come up with my story ideas, and the only two answers I can give is imagination and nonfiction.
My ideas come from the imagination. Imagination is real when it comes to life in fiction and film, whether it is fantasy, science fiction, mainstream fiction, or another genre where fictional characters are portrayed as real people with rea life issues, and themes are employed to teacher readers about history, culture, and other elements that exist or existed in the real world. On the other hand, they may be ideas simply from one’s imagination. That is me. Reading nonfiction gives me ideas too.
From history books, scientific research, news articles, and other forms of nonfiction, I gain ideas. Learning about historical events, people and ongoing development in science and technology, clicks something inside my brain. Then that something unites with my imagination. Even my least favorite topics, politics and religion, facilitate my ideas to write. The only way I can explain this is that these things are a part of the real world, obviously. Therefore, if a writer such as myself wants to develop cultures and characters around a realistic world or have any hint of realism then knowledge of happenings in real life seem important. There many authors of fiction who demonstrate this strategy, from Charles Dickens to Stephen King to Cormac McCarthy, and to Huge Howey and Ernest Cline.