Sparks of Ideas

Posted by Pamela Varnado | 10:48 AM | 10 comments »

Inspirations for stories often come at the oddest moments and in the most unusual places. While John Steinbeck worked as a migrant worker in California, he witnessed a farmhand kill the boss that fired the farmhand’s friend. This single incident later served as inspiration for Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men.

Last year, I watched an interesting interaction between a woman and her two sons at a bank. We stood in line. The boys were twins and didn’t appear to be more than five years old. One of them bounced a tiny rubber ball.

“Stop it,” the woman said.
The boy stopped, but the moment her attention moved away he started again. Carpet covered the floor. He struggled to control the ball and had to chase it around the other customers standing in line.  
“I said stop it,” the woman said again, her tone snippy.
This stop/start tug-of-war played out a couple more times until she bent and yanked him by the arm. “Wait til we get home.” The warning in her eyes was clear.
He looked crushed.
The teller motioned the woman up to the counter. The boys followed. The other twin, who up to this point had been as quiet as a mouse, snatched the ball from his brother’s hand. After noticing his mom was busy with the teller, he bounced the ball. It rolled into a nearby office. A customer talking with a banker rose and picked it up. He walked out to the lobby.
“Does this belong to anyone?” he asked.
Everyone turned his way.
When the woman saw the ball, anger shone in her eyes. She stared at the boys.
They pointed at each other and said in unison, “It was him.”

 I didn’t know it at the time, but out of that simple five minute interaction sparked an idea for the short story I wrote for an anthology for Gilded Dragonfly Books. My paranormal story, Metamorphosis, (title may change) deals with the mystical aspects of being a twin. And while my characters are not kids, the two boys in the bank inspired my plot.

So be sure to visit the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers blog in February to learn more about my story and read an excerpt.


  1. Autumn Jordon // January 23, 2013 at 12:28 PM  

    So true, Pam. I drive my dh nuts because I'll hear a bit of conversation or see something and start plotting. I also rewrite tv shows and movies and tell him what didn't ring true or a twist that would've been better.

    Good luck on the new release.

  2. Mona Risk // January 23, 2013 at 1:19 PM  

    Great post, Pam. All my books are inspired by events that happened to people I know. When I'm traveling and waiting for an airplane at the gate, I enjoy watching the passengers. So many ideas can spark from their attitudes and intercations.

  3. Pamela Varnado // January 23, 2013 at 4:49 PM  

    Autumn, searching for my next story ideas is ingrained deeply in me now. I look for them everywhere, even while I'm doing something as boring as standing in a bank line.

  4. Pamela Varnado // January 23, 2013 at 4:52 PM  

    Mona, people watching in an airport is so enlightening. I am a very private person, but some folks let all their baggage hang out. LOL. You can gets lots of ideas listening to some of the conversations.

  5. Scarlet Pumpernickel // January 23, 2013 at 9:02 PM  

    Isn't it amazing where inspiration for our stories pops up? I often see some little scene and there my imagination goes, turning it into a plot. I'm excited about the Gilded Dragonfly Books antbology.

  6. Barbara Monajem // January 23, 2013 at 9:20 PM  

    LOL. So true -- inspiration is all around us. I'm always saying 'what if?' about something I see. Too bad there's not enough time to write all the stories!!

    Looking forward to the anthology. :)

  7. Pamela Varnado // January 23, 2013 at 9:33 PM  

    Scarlet, no matter where my inspiration comes from, my stories are always character driven.

  8. Pamela Varnado // January 23, 2013 at 9:37 PM  

    Barbara, I know what you mean. I have so many stories rolling around in my head, I'll never have time to write them all. :)

  9. Mary Marvella // January 23, 2013 at 10:06 PM  

    Pam, Scarlet and I discussed doing some coordinated promoting of the anthology in February around the release date. You beat us to the draw. Pam's story is wonderful, folks!

  10. Beth Trissel // January 25, 2013 at 1:40 PM  

    Excellent post Pam, and so true for me as well.