The most oft-repeated question writers hear is "where do you get your ideas?"
Many of us shuffle and mumble, making up bits about "observing people in everyday settings" and reading the newspaper and exploring alternate endings to chance encounters. The shuffling and mumbling is a sure tell that we are lying, people. Truth is that most of us don't know where the ideas come from, they just....arrive.
Except when they don't. Sometimes, you're sitting there with your book, wondering what the hell happens next. This happened to my darling friend Rachael Herron the other day. I wasn't there, but apparently she confided in our mutual friend that she was worried because there was no conflict in her story. Dumbfounded, the friend pointed out that everything from the backstory to the setup was rife with unstable elements just begging to be tipped over and spilled gloriously upon the emotional landscape of the key characters. It was all there, waiting to be plundered...and Rachael just needed a bit of help from an extra pair of eyes to see it.
Moments like this are precious, even essential to keeping the writing flowing. Sadly, they don't come in a bottle and you can't order them from Amazon. However...we have discovered the next best thing:
Chicken and waffles.
For some reason, the occasional Plot Lunch at a certain old venerable diner, with gallons of coffee and acres of worn formica, is just the ticket. I've never emerged from such a lunch without a solution to my most pressing plot problems. And the best part is that we don't struggle for answers; rather, they seem to bubble up from the gossip and laughing and crying.
Funny, I just had a thought - who knows what a better writer Naipaul might have been if he'd had something like Plot Lunch? :)
Rachael and Juliet, cracking wise