The ideas for my fiction come from current events that are not necessarily carried in mainstream media. I start with an issue and then wrap a story around it. This way, the reader becomes exposed to a topic with significant political, environmental, health, or social implications embedded in an engrossing (hopefully) tale. The characters themselves become absorbed into the issue while solving a mystery. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for us all, there is a lot of fodder today for this approach to writing a story. Think about it. You could pick up any topic, climate change for example, and write a substantial and exciting novel about some event that occurs because of a terrible climate change crisis. In fact, this has already been done. But, what I am saying is, that it’s an approach that allows fiction writers to come up with exciting and gripping storylines. The protagonist(s) and other characters take on a life of their own. I often feel that when I am not writing, my characters are just hanging about, like puppets, impatiently waiting for me to pick up the strings where I left off. They are eager to get on with the story.
I should also mention that I conduct extensive research when I write my novels. And, I verify the research. I check out authors’ credentials, I cross-reference factual information, and I use multiple sources. When possible, I physically travel to a site to observe it for myself. I also try to include personal experiences in my novels. Of course these are masked to protect individuals, but it allows me to be much more genuine contrasted to relying solely on my imagination.
Watching people’s behavior is another technique that I utilize. Once you’ve been around the block (or world) a few times, you can judge people more thoroughly, more comprehensively. You can begin to pick up on certain traits such as greed, fear, selfishness, anger, sadness, empathy, altruism, generosity, curiosity, joy and so forth. Then I attempt to weave the traits into the characters to build the persona. I am hopeful that I convey my characters so that the reader may be able to think that he or she has actually known ‘someone like that’.