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The Recipe for a Delicious Story
A lot of readers like to know where authors get their ideas and inspiration. I think I can speak for most writers when I say that ideas can come from anywhere—even the most unlikely places. A snippet of conversation overheard at a restaurant, an encounter with the neighbor’s vicious dog, and of course, the daily grind. Good stories are similar to good recipes. There will be a variety of ingredients included, some more than others, but all necessary for satisfying consumption.
As a fantasy writer I get this question, I suspect, a little more than someone who writes, say…romance. I mean, most people can relate to love and relationships a lot more readily than dwarves and dragons, right? People are often curious to know how both Sasquatch and Nephilim ended up in my novels.
Well, believe it or not, real life is still the inspiration. No, no…I’m not saying I believe in Bigfoot or have discovered a tribe of Nephilim in the woods near my home. But there are a lot of unexplained and amazing things around me. Even the mundane can have a little mystery. The Lord’s creativeness is vast. At once both consuming and subtle. Complex in its simplicity.
Consider the mushroom. That unpretentious little cap-shaped fungi is merely the fruit of a vast network of threads that entwine themselves in the moist earth and other plants, helping matter decompose. These mycelium threads can reach far and wide, in comparison to their clusters of cute little caps. In fact, there’s !
The honey mushroom—dubbed “the humungous fungus”—is s-l-o-w-l-y killing the trees in this mountain range. It is smothering the life out of the evergreens at a growth rate of one to two feet per year. Not spreading up the trunk of each tree at that rate…but the entire network only casts its net a little wider by one to two feet per year. For it to have spread to such an enormous size means that this honey mushroom plant is a minimum of 2,000 years old. Amazing! Doesn’t this sound like something from a science fiction novel?
Now, that example is just one random thing I thought I’d look into for the sake of this post. (Admittedly, I only now learned about this giant organism. You really should click the link and see it for yourself!). But I did, in fact, take the humble mushroom and use it in my book, However, my mushrooms were humungous, big enough to picnic beneath, and emitted a soft phosphorescent glow. Voila! Fantasy.
I won’t drone on about how all the different elements found their way into my story. But I wanted to point out that anything around you can—possibly—be fodder for your imagination. Take a little folklore, add a tie to the Garden of Eden, mix in a fiercely loving family, swirl together a prophecy about their autistic son and his destiny…and you’ve got yourself an adventure!
Those “ingredients” are all things that are part of my life, to one degree or another. I grew up in the Northwest where there are rumors of Bigfoot. I’m a Christian that believes the Garden of Eden really existed (time machine, anyone?), my family is close and loving, and my son is autistic.
A lot of reality mixed with a heavy dose of “what if” and a story takes shape. My particular circumstances and beliefs are unique to me. But, like a chef, I have learned to take the different elements and create something palatable for most readers.
You, my friend, are blessed with your own unique situation. God has placed you in a particular environment and has allowed your trials and triumphs for many reasons. Might one of them be to create a story that will build the faith of others? Has He given you the ingredients for an appetizing new tale?
What have you experienced that has made you think, “Wow, this would make a good book”?
Now think a little harder…what everyday things surround you that could be added to your story recipe in an unexpected way? I’d love to hear your ideas! You might be surprised at how a new perspective on something familiar can grow into a plot for a book.
But hopefully it will grow a little faster than the honey mushroom ;)
Heather L.L. FitzGerald writes from her home in Texas, while dreaming of being back in the Pacific Northwest, where she grew up. When her four kids were young, she enjoyed reading aloud until her voice gave out. (Her son, who is autistic, would just move on to his favorite audiobook). Certain stories became good friends—the kind you want to revisit. The kind you wish never needed to say goodbye. Those are the kind of stories Heather aspires to write. Stories worthy of delicious coffee. Stories difficult to leave. She hopes you will find her YA Fantasy trilogy The Tethered World Chronicles to be one of those kind of tales. All three books, , and , and are available on Amazon or can be ordered at any book retailer.
Heather is a member of the North Texas Christian Writer's group, ACFW, CAN, and helps with the Manent Writer's group in Fort Worth, Texas. You can connect with Heather on her , , , : (Sadie’s mother has a blog pertaining to legendary creatures), , , and .