Where Do Story Ideas Come From? Or, The Invention of The Rogue And The Rival

Dreams. The stork. “The story idea store.” Every author has a different answer to this, but it usually amounts to the same thing: “I dunno. I just get ‘em.” For me it’s a two-part process. One day when I’m not thinking about it something occurs to me and I think, “That oughtta be in a romance novel. That would make for a good story.” And then maybe I remember it or maybe I don’t. If the idea does stick around, I start to flesh it out and see if the story is big enough to sustain a novel–and one that I would want to read and write.

The Rogue and The Rival, my newest novel, was conceived when a sentence popped into my head one day: Time had been good to Phillip Kensington, Marquis Huntley, even though he certainly did not deserve it.

The Phillip in the aforementioned sentence was the villainous twin of my debut novel, The Heir And The Spare. In an early draft of the story he died in the end. But because of that sentence, I wondered what might happen if he lived instead. Just wondered. After all, first lines of novels are hard to come by, so it seemed a shame to throw a good one away without fully considering its possibilities. All I needed was the rest of the story!

But first I needed the perfect heroine for a man like Phillip. He had, according to Lady Palmerston, the negligent chaperone of my series, ruined four girls. Wouldn’t it be a perfect twist of fate and divine poetic justice for him to fall in love with a woman who had been ruined by a different man? A woman who would certainly know better than to dally with the likes of Phillip.

And where might our villain-turned-hero find such a woman? She would probably have been cast out of society for her transgression, so he wouldn’t find her in the ballrooms of London. Perhaps she worked at inn? Or as a seamstress? Or perhaps a little cottage tucked way on the outskirts of town? Or what about an abbey? Aha!

I had the hero (a rake being reformed), the heroine (a woman learning to love again), and the setting (an abbey—the perfect place for reformation, forgiveness, and faith). There was much more work to be done—like figuring out how he ended up in the abbey, inventing her life story, and including re-writing Phillip’s death scene so that he lives.

One burst of inspiration and lots of daydreaming resulted in a novel that was a delight to write. Of course it didn’t happen as neatly I described. It involved a lot of started and abandoned word documents, a lot of scraps of paper with lines or thought scribbled on the, and a lot of day dreaming.

Do you ever come up with story ideas or did you wonder where they came from? Do you write them down?

I’ll be popping in today to answer your comments and I’ll be chatting with the Romance Junkies on November 16th and 9 pm. Stop by and say hello!

~~Maya Rodale

11 Responses to Where Do Story Ideas Come From? Or, The Invention of The Rogue And The Rival

  1. Jenifer Yankee

    Thank you for any other excellent post. The place else may just anybody get that type of info in such a perfect means of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I am on the search for such info.

  2. Maya Rodale Blog

    […] Romance Junkies: Where Do Story Ideas Come From? Or, The Invention of The Rogue And The Rival. […]

  3. Gigi

    I really enjoy this blog.
    What a cool concept for a story. ” I had the hero (a rake being reformed), the heroine (a woman learning to love again), ”
    I love it.
    I haven’t written stories since college and the thought of trying blows my mind.

    It amazes me how authors keep it together and turn out such good stories time after time.

  4. Pamela Keener

    I am also a reader who loves to hear how the characters evolve within an author’s mind to the written word. The Rogue and the Rivsl has a very interesting premise and I am adding it to my long lists of TBR books. Thanks for sharing

  5. maya rodale

    Hello Everyone! I really enjoyed reading all your comments.

    Valerie–I agree with you; I definitely like to hear the “story within a story” too.

    Breia–I say write what you want, and don’t worry about want the characters want. I once read a comment by Julia Quinn basically saying she liked being the boss of her characters. But sometimes, once you get to “know” them, it becomes obvious what should happen next in the story.

    Kim–Yay for readers! We make it worthwhile for authors to do what they do. Thanks for the compliments on my site and my covers!

    Maureen–I’m amazed by that, too.


  6. Maureen

    I am always amazed at how the authors I enjoy can take their stories in so many different directions but bring the characters to their HEA in the end.

  7. KimW

    Enjoyed reading all about your book and visiting your website. I love the covers on your books. I’m just a reader and can’t say that any stories ideas come into my mind. lol I’m glad for authors like you who are able to take their thoughts and turn them into wonderful stories.

  8. Breia Brickey

    I always ask where authors get their ideas. Most people say that the character writes their own story. What if my characters haven’t reached that point yet? Should I just write what I want and hope the characters take over or wait for input( yes I know that this sounds really funny)? I wonder if there are stories that the characters just sit back and watch you unfold it for their eyes? So many questions, so little time.

  9. Valerie

    I always enjoy reading about how authors get their ideas for their stories. It’s quite fascinating and is almost a story within the story.


  10. romona hilliger

    Hello Karen and all

    My husband’s job entails travelling the Outback of Australia a lot. And I mean ‘Outback’. Consequently, my camera and notebook are, not only, cram jammed with the natural wonders of this vast untamed continent but the people who dare to live there.

    Most of my stories are taken from actual characters I’ve met and struck me as spell-binding. Places I’ve been, and all blended in with a good measure of romance. Love up against impossible odds.

    Happy Haloween to you all, we don’t have it on our official list, but kids are kids everywhere. I have bags of goodies all ready for them.

    Romona Hilliger

  11. maya rodale

    Hi Karen,

    I too keep a journal, and always have a lot of tablets around for when I get ideas. I have to write them down or I probably won’t remember them.

    Must be a really interesting journal you have–you could do a book of potential first lines of novels!

    Good luck with your masters!


  12. Karin

    While I haven’t written any fiction in a few years while focusing on getting my Master’s degree, I have written first lines down in a journal. I got in the habit of doing that when I was an undergraduate and taking a creative writing course, so I have quite a few opening sentences.

    I’m not sure where the ideas came from, but I do remember getting a few of them while showering just before going to bed, which was convenient since the journal is stashed under my bed.

    Did you ever have a habit of doing something like that? If so, when did it start?

  13. Maya Rodale Blog » The Darcy Darlington Mystery is about to conclude…New Chapter Today!

    […] other Me-news, I’m blogging with the Romance Junkies today! Click here to read about how I got the idea for The Rogue And The […]

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