It was a lazy Saturday. One free of obligations. The apartment was clean, the weather was dreary, and it was the perfect day to go to the movies alone. I arrived at the theater ten minutes before the movie was due to start. Ahead of me in line was a guy about my age, also going to see Red Dawn alone. At the concession counter, we ordered the same “single person special,” and sat seats away from each other to enjoy the movie.
As the movie drew to a close, my bladder decided to make its presence known. With a vengeance. With the credits rolling, I flashed a regretful smile at my new friend and rushed to the restroom. Stupid liquid. If only I had chosen dehydration instead of the large size drink, things might have been different.
I exited the restroom and made my way to my car. Checking my phone for important missed calls and texts (there were none), I was startled by a knock on the window. It was my movie buddy!
“I looked for you after the movie, but you disappeared,” he said after I rolled down the window.
“Oh? What for?” I asked innocently, batting my eyes.
“I noticed you were by yourself. Did you want to grab dinner and talk about the movie?”
I thought for a moment. “Absolutely.”
Or that’s how it might have turned out. In reality, I will never see my movie man again. But it would be a cute meet story, wouldn’t it?
People often ask me where I come up with the ideas for my books. I always tell them I really don’t know, but recently it occurred to me that most of my ideas really come from real life. From situations, real or imagined, in which I find myself, or hear about from friends. (One of my books is basically a compilation of my friend’s dating stories, and those of her friends.) Of course, when I actually write them, I exaggerate or create new dialogue and situations. Maybe I see something happen and I can picture what the interaction might look like in the future, or in the past.
If you’ve ever people watched, you have probably tried to make up stories about the people you see. That’s what writing is. Starting with a random idea for a character and adding your own ideas to their personality, what they would eat for breakfast, how they might interact with their family or friends, how much money they have. And yes, I do use people I know in real life for my stories. Sometimes just their names, sometimes aspects of their personalities. I always fictionalize them. There isn’t a single character in a book that is completely like a real person I know. Rather, they are bits and pieces of people, with random other characteristics thrown in.
There are countless stories all around us, just waiting to be written.
What’s your story?