Top 5 (Surprising) Resources For Your Next Book Idea

girl with ideas

In the early stages of your writing career, you need all the inspiration and idea factories you can find. So, for you I made this quick list of 5 surprising resources for your next book idea (along with the next 10).

  1. The Nexus (No, not the wrestling, Skyrim, or Stock Market Nexus)
  2. Busy public venues (like the mall or theater lines)
  3. Library (that place with all the books, you know)
  4. Movies (we’re not talking about copying or, God forbid, retconning, but inspiration)
  5. The Bible

Okay, let’s dig in and see how to unearth the golden tickets from these 5 bars of chocolaty goodness.

The buckelsbooks version of the Nexus is the delightful place your mind wanders to when you’re watching a show or movie or reading a book or (supposed to be) listening to someone who’s chatting you up. The more I write the more I find my mind wandering to the Nexus. I often have to ask people to repeat themselves. Of course, I make sure to explain my author-attributed ADHD, or as I call it: AAADHD.

The Nexus is a phantasmagoric land of adventure. Anything goes. Here you can cobble together disparate ideas to create one awesome unified book idea. Here is where I combined genetic engineering with magic to fictionalize up Mythcorp. An entire series has sprung up from this tinkering in the Nexus. (I was guilty of DWI: Driving While Imagining).

Go ahead, let your mind wander down corridors never before trodden. You never know what you might conjure in the Nexus. Go wild! (This post in the Take it to the Bank series fleshes out the details in a fun way for you.)

Best-Selling Authors Do It, So It’s Okay

Public Venues: Many of the great best-selling authors (and many great not best-selling authors) enjoy going out in public and eavesdropping. Go ahead, this is guilt-free stuff here. It’s for research. I use that line all the time whenever my brother asks me why I’m learning something new and strange or when I hang around new and strange folk.

Listen to their dialogue. It’s absurd and clipped and visceral and real. An expression you never heard before might inspire an idea. At the very least you will pick up the rhythm and flow and staccato beat of realistic dialogue.

I don’t have to explain the whole library deal, right?

May great books have been inspired by movies (and the other way around, naturally). I’m not talking about watching Aliens and then writing a sci-fi horrorshow with a fantastic female protagonist. If you allow your writers noodle to pick up on the inspiration behind the writing of the movie, if you let your subconscious tweaker revel in the sheer pleasure of a great story, the movie might just inspire a totally different idea.

LISTEN: The more you write, the more cleverly you will watch and read. You begin picking up on subtle clues you never noticed before. Motivations that were lost on your fanboy or fangirl dazzle eyes will be clearly seen through your writer’s specs. With this superior grasp and deeper insight, your mind will conjure its own original ideas.

Not the Poisonwood Bible (Although that’s good too)

And last but not least is the Bible! Countless novelists have caught the Bible bug and scratched out winners left and right. Firstly there’s the 7,700 unique names (Magog and the Rabshakah are a couple of my favorites; they would make great names for space opera characters).

Then you have the epic showdowns between good and evil. Amazingly, evil wins on occasion in the books of the Bible, at least on the outset, which is more than you can say for those fat fantasies of the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and ‘90’s where no matter the odds you knew the bad guy would always eat it.

And then of course there’s the supernatural side of things. This divine undercurrent adds spice to every story inside, an unpredictable element. TIP: don’t fall for the dues ex machina fail so many subwriters have indulged in over the years. YOUR SUPERNATURAL elements should always be secondary, and they should never negate all that has come before with some super awesome alodatious last minute save.

(I’d still like someone to explain to me why those pretentious eagles in LOTR didn’t help earlier)

Anyway, food for thought. I hope you picked up a trick or two, an inspiring method for attaining ideas for your own stories. And remember: only you can write that book.

WORD OF THE DAY: Plunderbund

A plunderbund is a thieving group of businessmen. Yes indeed, the next time I have a meeting with the bosses of my boss, I’ll know just how to address that group. That pilfering plunderbund is gonna get an earful for shiznit!

How to Write Realistic Dialogue

jack nicholson you can't handle the truth

If you’re like me, you are always on the lookout for tips on improving your writing. One vital aspect—the most important, according to many bestselling authors—is dialogue.

Skunk up this part of your manuscript and all your strengths (characterization, world-building, suspense, etc) will prove no more consequential than a gas blast in a windstorm. Master it and your work will speak for itself with professional confidence.

What makes dialogue good and what makes it bad?

Award-winning writers like Stephen King assure us that good dialogue is ‘real’ dialogue. This means that even when it is crass, incomplete, or downright rule-breaking, it’s okay, so long as it is real. What do they mean by ‘real’? In his memoir of the craft of writing, aptly titled On Writing, King states that real dialogue is honest, meaning it sounds like everyday people talking. Your neighbors, coworkers, family and friends all speak honestly (even when they’re lying), because when they speak they use everyday words in the most casual manner.

Real Dialogue is like, you know, totally real

They don’t speak like a King James Bible (poetic, but even back then I bet ‘doth’ and ‘stinketh’ were not used in casual convo), they don’t speak like a thesaurus (real homies say awesome, not stupefying), and they certainly never speak like a hackneyed supervillain (choose your next words carefully, Mr. Bond, they may be your last).

The best tip for developing this aspect of your writing is to go thee forth into the world and listen to real people speaking honestly. You will hear pointless drivel. You will listen to banal palaver, men passionately discussing nothing. You will hear the occasional threat, its sincerity difficult to detect, but honest—always honest whether it is meant for a laugh or to intimidate. All of it makes for the best possible schooling you can get where it concerns learning how to write dialogue. And it’s totally free. (Just don’t get caught eavesdropping on strangers—such a thing is frowned upon in civilized society, but an author must sometimes step on toes if he wants to break out.)

When you listen long enough, you will begin to pick up the rhythm and flow of real dialogue. Then you will be able to write it honestly—and you may even begin to join in the conversation yourself.

One good paragraph of dialogue also reveals character better than any info-dump ‘telling’ could hope to accomplish in ten paragraphs. Done right, you can reveal the deeper nature and the peccadilloes and the philosophies and the hopes and goals of your characters through dialogue.

Personal pet peeve: Please oh please, don’t make your characters say ‘A storm is—’ well, you know the rest. I can’t even bear to write that infamous cliché!

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This is all just skimming the surface, of course. Advanced studies of dialogue can show you how to layer it, so that your speakers convey subtext between the lines. Check out this site for a guide to authors who own the dialogue aspect of writing.

For a straightforward example of subtext in dialogue, you might consider watching Smallville. The scenes between Lex and his father Lionel are filled with tension and subtext. Almost everything these two characters say to each other possesses subtext, one or two subtle layers of different meanings. Their words are foils, and they duel like professional swordsmen. Listen carefully as they discuss the issue of the day, because beneath their everyday words are barbs; they prick each other with their words.

This is starting to sound like sexual innuendo, so I’ll stop. The point is, Smallville shows two sides in the way its writers write dialogue. Whenever Lana speaks it is melodramatic and often cliché. Clark Kent’s parents have better lines, but at times even they sound a bit stilted. When it comes to the Luthor’s—especially Lionel—however, the writers seem to step up their game. You can learn a lot from Smallville, both what to do and what not to do.

Well there it is. I am learning how to write dialogue, and I hope you have picked up a tip or two here for your own work. Good luck and God bless!