Jessica Christine Musgrove

Author. Singer. Actress.
My King is a dragon-slayer.

Writers Relate Post # 2

Story Ideas

I’d really like to know…

If you’re a writer, how do story ideas come to you? Is it logical? Do you sit there and think, “Okay, I want this story to be about a boy named Peter who never grows up because he lives in a realm called Neverland with fairies and pirates and mermaids, and he can fly, and his enemy is Captain Hook because Peter cut off his hand. And Peter becomes intrigued by the three Darling children who live in London and flies to their window and invites them to Neverland, and they all have a grand adventure.”

I’m here to tell you, if this is how your mind works, that’s GREAT, but that is SO not how it works for me. It’s like my mind enjoys tormenting me by providing me with a sliver of an unwritten story without any context. For instance: When I first had the idea for writing Evergreen and the Silver Tree, the ONLY idea I had was this picture in my mind of an enormous evergreen tree, a tree so tall, I couldn’t see its tip…The largest Christmas tree ever beheld. I didn’t know yet that the tree would be located next to Malkuth River in Ezra City and that to reach it, one would have to prick an amethyst thorn to reveal a ruby portal and then sneak over the forbidden golden wall, past the goblins guarding the portal. I didn’t know that engraved upon the evergreen’s trunk would be an ancient prophecy. I had no characters, no creatures, nothing. Nothing except a picture. Yet somehow, this picture in my mind brought me so much excitement. I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I finally gave in and said, “Let’s run with it.”

Now, an entire world is built around this evergreen tree, all because a picture formed in the chambers of my heart as I sat in the passenger seat of Mom’s car and stared out at the surrounding forest on the highway.

How do story ideas make its way into the depths of your soul? You see, I tend to think the subconscious knows more about the story than we do. As we experience life–emotions and relationships and obstacles and stress and lessons learned and conversations–it’s like we’re taking bites out of potential future stories. We chew, we swallow, we slowly digest, all while the subconscious takes and keeps certain pieces, weaving those pieces together. And then, one year, three years, maybe even a decade down the forest trail of life, this strange quilt of a story, living inside you, begins to surface. As a picture, as a character talking, as the smallest glimpse into a scene. But you’re puzzled by the picture. You have no idea who the character talking even is. And that beautiful scene…Where does it fit? Where does it belong? Where did this idea come from?

Story ideas for me are like fever dreams. It’s like someone has handed me a plate of icing and said, “It’s up to you to make the cake that goes with it.” And that, my friends, is where the fun begins.

The morsel is there, that sweet, thrilling idea. It’s up to you to find the missing pieces. So start digging.

I also can’t help but add this: While the subconscious plays a part in the writing journey, I fully believe that for those who belong to the Lord, the Spirit inside is also very much at work! He’s the Master Artist, and there is nothing in your life that happens by accident!


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