Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Every author has been asked that question at one time or another, and most of us have to pause and scratch our head before we answer. One of the first things I was told when I was learning the craft was to constantly observe the world around me, because “story ideas are everywhere.” Some authors keep a notebook, others use three by five cards, and many—myself included—simply store these ideas in their brain. From these ideas, a writer develops the plot, populates the novel with characters, and gets to work.

Where do I get my ideas? I get them from everyday life. Both Kay and I are incurable people watchers. Whether it’s in a restaurant, sitting at the airport, shopping, or even at church, we have our eyes on those around us. And it’s a simple jump from there to construct a scenario. See that couple at the next table, each engrossed in their iPhone, not saying a word to each other? Maybe they’ve just had a terrible fight. Maybe he’s reached the tipping point where he’s imagining how he can get rid of her permanently. Perhaps he decides to act on his thoughts. There’s a plot.

My novels thus far have sprung from such varied situations as a relative’s near-paranoia about identity theft, the accusations of mercy-killing against a colleague, and a retraction in a
 professional journal about falsified research data. My latest novel of medical suspense began when I was leaving the medical center parking garage late at night. I looked around and imagined how deserted it must be at two AM. What if a doctor were to be kidnapped from such a location? And what if he had no idea why the men doing it were under orders to kill him? That was the nidus from which Stress Test sprang.

One of my favorite sweatshirts bears the inscription, “Careful Or You’ll End Up In My Novel.” I’d suggest that there’s a lot of truth in that phrase. So the next time you’re out in public, think about how your actions might be the beginning of an idea for a novel. You never know. A writer could be right behind you.

Return Friday for a chance to win a copy of Richard's book, StressTest.

Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician, past Vice-President of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and the author of four published novels of medical suspense. His books have been finalists in competitions including ACFW’s Carol Award and Romantic Times’ Inspirational Book of the Year. His last novel, Lethal Remedy, won a 2012 Selah Award from the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. 

Richard’s website is http://rmabry.com, and he posts regularly on his blog, http://rmabry.blogspot.com. He is also active on Twitter (RichardMabry), Facebook (rmabrybooks), and GoodReads. 


  1. I appreciate the opportunity to share with your readers here. Thanks for hosting me.

  2. I've been trying to find some new authors to follow and you've made my cut. I'm listening to one of yours, Stress Test, on CD right now, and it's very good! pudy68 @ gmail dot com


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