Ideas for stories–where do they come from?


“There’s nothing new under the sun,” wrote William Shakespeare yet we write. Some authors find inspiration from a news article, an old song, an overheard conversation. Insatiable appetites for ideas; imaginations in overdrive. My first story, Starting Over was triggered by a radio blast while working in Florida.

Since then I discovered I’m a sleep writer. Yes, you’ve got that right. Not a sleep walker.

Picture this: Deep asleep, I dream of a girl in a small town in Minnesota. The year-so specific- is 1996. She lifts a tire iron over her head and slams it into her drunken father’s head to protect her mother from another vicious attack.

Dear Readers, I’ve never been to Minnesota. Why the dream, no one knows. I’m not thrilled because I write about mature women who Survive&Thrive NOT a teen who kills her dad. Compelled to follow the dream, the next morning I write. Four months of raising this fictional teenage wonder girl I fell in love with made me crazy. She, Charlie Costigan, decides to remain a virgin in an era where virginity has no meaning and is considered to be an archaic concept by most.

Typing The End, I cried with loss of my fictional kid. A few days later, two of the secondary characters, Charlies’ roommate from Northwestern U; basketball star, the exceptional black Shelley Jackson and Charlies’ brother Jimmy whispered in my ear. “What about us? We have a story worth telling.” And a sequel came to life. Titled Sin of OmissionSin of Omission by Charmaine Gordon.

Excerpt: Reconstructing Charlie

In this scene, it’s New Years Eve and seventeen year old Charlie is at a party with the popular Tom Donnelly.

I said, “It takes a while to get to know someone and we’re just at the
beginning. Each time we’re together we learn something new. Like fitting
puzzle pieces to make a picture, you know? So let’s go to the party.”
He caught my velvet covered arm and turned my face to his. “Tell me one
thing about yourself before we get out of the car.”
I thought for a moment and made a snap decision. “I’m a virgin and plan to stay that way until. . .” Until what?  Until hell freezes over? Until I say
“I do” with the right man kneeling next to me echoing my words. Yes. I got out of the car so fast I didn’t stop to see the astonished look on his face and by the time he caught up with me, he was all smiles.
When the ball dropped in Times Square and the party goers counted down, Tom and I were in the one quiet corner to be found. A porch at the back of the old house overlooked the yard where frozen stalks of corn never harvested, rustled in the night wind. Two vacant rocking chairs moved back and forth. Tom sat and pulled me on his lap.
He began with little kisses all over my face, neck, ears and my mouth reached for his, lips parted. His tongue tasted mine. Somewhere deep inside, I warned myself to know when to say no. He must have majored in kissing, making out. I majored in survival skills. So different. “So good,” he said. “You’re delicious.”
Slowly the rocking chair began to rock. I knew what he was thinking. His hardness against my thigh told me. My dress, high neck and long sleeves frustrated his hands when he stroked velvet instead of skin. So far, he didn’t try going under my dress for easy access where I tingled and my belly hurt with desire. I prayed he wouldn’t go there on his own or at best ask my permission. Let me decide. Oh Tom, I caught my breath with the yearning for him. Don’t spoil us before we’ve begun.
Our breathing quickened, my hair-do in a mess, fell around our faces. A natural progression in 1998 or face it, kid, ever since the Pill, would be to. . . The porch door banged open.
 ”Happy New Year, you two.” Pat and Shelley handed over two glasses of champagne. “You missed the countdown.” They laughed and we were alone again.

Tom muttered, “Shit.” under his breath.
Saved by the ball.\


7 thoughts on “Ideas for stories–where do they come from?

  1. Well said, Chatmaine. When you can cry over the loss of a character in your story, you’re well into your imagination. My mother told me once that when I was about three, I had an “imaginary friend.” Today, I realize it was at least one character from at least one of my novels.

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