Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More How Do You Get Your Ideas

Where do you get your ideas? That's the Number One Question I hear from beginning writers. So many people ask it, it must be a good question.

My wife and I went to visit a friend in Canada over the Labor Day Weekend, and there was no wait at all coming back across the border. Yes! We cruised into the USA in high spirits. But fifteen minutes down Interstate 5, the freeway suddenly morphed into a parking lot. Damn! There we sat, every now and then coasting a few feet forward.

An access road ran parallel to the freeway, and a short distance ahead of us, a spur connected the two roads. A large sign proclaimed in red letters to freeway drivers:


But all of a sudden, I saw a car zip through a momentary opening in the right lane of freeway traffic, and onto the spur. Wrong way! The driver turned onto the access road just in front of a car whose driver had to jam on the brakes to avoid a collision.

So, what happened next?
A - The driver of the car on the access road pulled a gun and shot the wrong-way driver.
B - The driver of the car on the access road flipped the wrong-way driver a finger; then the wrong-way driver shot him.
C - The driver of the car on the access road couldn't stop in time, and crashed into the wrong-way car. The two drivers leaped from their cars. One was a hunky guy, the other, a gorgeous gal. Both were mad as drenched cats.
D - The driver of the wrong-way car sped off down the access road. Another freeway driver liked the sight of that, and turned onto the spur himself. So did another driver. Within a few minutes, the spur was clogged with wrong-way drivers, blocked from exiting to the access road by the now-steady stream of cars which had taken the legal exit from the freeway a quarter-mile back.
E - None of the above.

The actual answer was D. Less dramatic than the others...or was it? Any of those first three possibilities (and many more) could be developed into a nice little crime story. I can even imagine C becoming a series with a bit of romance between a male and a female PI who tell people they first met by accidentally running into each other.

But my choice would be to consider the frustration of the impatient drivers who'd made the illegal move, and then found themselves out of the frying pan and in the fire. Easy to picture one of those idiots frantically maneuvering on the narrow shoulder to get back onto the freeway, irritating the living bejesus out of everyone around him. Tempers would flare, cars would crash, a riot would break out, an innocent person would be killed. And after the dust had settled and the blood had dried, the victim's spouse, parent, child, or friend would be obsessed with finding the culprit (who had vanished in the melee), and bringing him or her to justice. Which could work out in any number of ways, endless possibilities. From one event, enough story ideas for years of writing.

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