What makes a story

I  think the number one question people ask writers is "where do you get your ideas?" 

I find that ideas are everywhere (it's just carrying them through to a plot is the hard part). You can get them from news stories, from eavesdropping listening to conversations, or just randomly thinking as you walk or run (which is why I never listen to music exercising. Some of my best ideas come from 20 mile hikes or mile long swims). I have had all sorts of ideas and 99% of them never make it to the page. People have also suggested them to me. 

Like I said, the hard part is carrying the idea into a story. It's one thing to say, what if a bison came into fire camp, and then decide..Ok, so what? I have also found that if you are writing for a market, what you think people will want to read, it just won't work. You have to care about your idea. I think this is why some best-selling authors' novels fall flat after the first few. They are just following a formula and you can tell even they are bored by it. 

I know writers who get an idea and write up a whole outline and know exactly waht is going to happen from page one to 400. Right or wrong, I can't do that. I just write a scene and let the story unfold. This probably wastes some time, because I have ended up on raibbit trails that went nowhere, necessitating abandonment of the whole project. I am really, really good at Chapter One!

At any rate, we press on. I have a couple of ideas swirling in my head right now. They are not past the simmer stage. Obviously, I need a long hike.