The Well of Ideas: Sunday ROW80 check-in

8436847014_0d31f0b935_z Rainbow WANA Commons by Dani Jace
Photo from WANA Commons. By Dani Jace.

As writers, we’re often asked if we’re worried we’ll run out of ideas—or simply where our ideas come from in the first place. For me, my stories often come to me as a single image. For my newest WIP, a novella that I just started this week, it started with a woman looking out into her yard and seeing a rainbow—and then a strange figure emerging from that rainbow. It was a simple image and I had no idea where it would go. But I’m a pantser at heart, so my stories tend to start that way—a single image or scene that I want to explore.

After I’ve got a scene or two down on the page, I’ll stop and try to do some outlining and plotting and do some character background. And then I move forward with the rest of the story, fleshing it out and filling in details as I go. My current method is a blend of pantser meets plotter, since my first drafts are much cleaner and more cohesive when I do some planning work early in the process.

Sunday ROW80 check-in


  • Finish a second draft of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.” Added two new scenes this week.
  • Write a first draft of another novella. Wrote slightly over 1K in a new story, tentatively titled “At Rainbow’s End.”
  • Read a minimum of four books on the business or craft of writing. Finished reading “Conflict and Suspense” by James Scott Bell. Started reading Bell’s “Novel from the Middle.”

Social media:

  • Check in on Twitter daily. Not so much this week. Met two of five days.
  • Blog two times per week. Blogged Wednesday and Sunday. Goal met.
  • Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Met for Wednesday and Thursday, not for Monday and Tuesday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? Where do your story ideas come from? How does your process work?

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Fantasy & paranormal romance author. Witch. Tarot reader. Possibly a woodland sprite. Debut release TANGLED ROOTS now available. Magic awaits at

9 thoughts on “The Well of Ideas: Sunday ROW80 check-in

  1. I get ideas from seeing something on the news, from song lyrics (and I listen to weird stuff, so…) or sometimes a character my muse drops into a previous work, which is where my current WIP came from.

    I saw a 360° rainbow once. My husband was driving through Kentucky in a light rain. I looked up through my car’s T-top roof, and there it was, a complete circle around the sun peeking through the clouds. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!

    1. Wow. I’ve never seen a 360-degree rainbow. I did once see the tail end of a rainbow in the pond behind my parents’ house. It was beautiful. Too bad I didn’t have a camera with me.

      Song lyrics are a great place to find story inspiration. I actually had a short story that sprang from a symphony–no lyrics, but the music just drew the story out of me. 🙂

  2. I’ll never understand the thought of running out of ideas. I’ve got more ideas than I’ll probably ever have time to use. And I’m constantly being inspired by everything around me, too, so the pile just keeps getting larger and larger and larger…

    Nice work on your goals, Denise! Keep it up 🙂

    1. I don’t think I could ever run out of ideas–only time to get them all down on the page. I always have more ideas than time, but I think that’s what draws us writers to the page.


  3. My ideas also come from anywhere and everywhere. I have a notebook filled with ideas for stories I want to write someday. And I obviously have no process because none of these stories are getting written!

    Sounds like you are doing all right with your goals. If we achieved every goal every week, we wouldn’t be challenging ourselves enough.

    1. I once heard it said (about songwriting, not novel-writing, but it still applies), that’s there’s nothing to it. You just pluck a tune out of the air. Writing is a lot like that. There are stories swirling around us like autumn leaves, and we’re just trying to catch them.

      Thanks for commenting, Chris. 🙂

  4. I often get ideas from images – natural ones are at the top of the list. Sometimes, a bit of dialogue or an interaction between characters will pop into my head seemingly from out of nowhere- most often, I’m in the shower when this happens.

    I’ve learned to not try to write these scenes for a while. If I do, I get embroiled in the (never quite adequate) words I’ve created. If I allow the scene to live in my imagination for a while, it generally deepens and widens, often leading to new plot lines, other scenes, or even solutions to plot tangles.

    A week or three ago, I had a series of interactions pop into my head, and one of the central bits was a character with hyperemesis (frequent vomiting). Having food poisoning this weekend has really impacted that nascent scene – I now have a far better idea of what my poor character will have to endure…not maybe the most desirable way of developing an idea, but if I can take something good out of a weekend spent miserably out of commission, I will. =)

    I love your writing posts, and I’m rather fascinated by that blue door on your header. Good progress on your goals this week!

    1. Many of my ideas come to me while I’m staring at the woods outside my window or out hiking somewhere. Images also conjure up story ideas. I’ll see a beautiful cottage and wonder who lives there, for example. Listening to music, reading about mythologies or fairy tales, or staring into the trees–all of these things are potential hiding places for story ideas.

      Some stories I can work on right away; others need time to simmer before I put fingers to keyboard. All of my stories come to me as a patchwork and I have to figure out how to put those patches together into a cohesive and beautiful design. I love the challenge, though.

      There is something intriguing about that blue door, isn’t there? 🙂

      1. It sounds like wee have a similar process, except that I seldom start writing right away. In June of 2013, a friend took me to a public garden – and, nearly everywhere I went, there were places that inspired stories. I took many pictures, so that those scenes could weave themselves into my story world,

        And yes, that blue door is compelling…hmnnn, it may be part of a story. Stay tuned. =)

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