What we do with ideas is what makes us novelists and not just idea people.
We must take the ideas and link them into something that makes sense, something that makes others care.
We attach those ideas to people the reader can care about. Every piece of writing begins with an idea but an idea, all by itself, is not enough.
You need what I like to call an adhesive idea; an idea to which other ideas will adhere.
The Adhesive Idea which helped me create Kill Cue, my ﬁrst novel, was “What would happen if a disk jockey was killed while he was on the air, but nobody knew it because the station was automated.”
At the time, I was working nights at an automated FM radio station. Naturally, the next idea to stick to my Adhesive Idea was “Why would someone kill a disk jockey while he was on the air?” The answer to that led to “Why would Veronica (my protagonist) investigate?” And that led to “What secret was the disk jockey trying to hide?”
For Extreme Close-Up, the Adhesive Idea was only “Could someone be cleared of a murder when he actually did pull the trigger and his gun actually did shoot the victim?” I had just seen the fascinating old movie, F/X and was prodded by one method the special effects expert, played by Bryan Brown, used to outsmart some bad guys. I used the same method to frame Veronica’s boyfriend. The plot was built around that single Adhesive Idea.
Of course, having ideas for books means nothing if you don’t have some way of keeping track of those ideas. I use the memo recorder on my smartphone and transfer the files to my computer later on. I record thoughts, ideas, pieces of dialog, and other stuff so I will not forget them. I transcribe those notes about once a week and put them in my “plotsaver ﬁle" on my laptop.
What makes the plot saver work is going through it and looking at the stuff again. Every time I start a new book, I go through everything in my plotsaver to ﬁnd things that may relate to what I plan to write. As I read through the stuff, I pair any items which could be related. I also try combining things I might never have considered combining before.
The goal of the plot saver is to spark your imagination. Juxtaposing ideas you never thought of combining before can be one way to do it. Your value as a writer of ﬁction depends on your ability to continue to come up with ideas for future books.
Most of the writers I know complain that they don’t have enough time to do the work necessary to share all they want to say.
For most professional writers the problem is not ﬁnding ideas, it’s ﬁnding time to write all the ideas we've found.
Above from the book NOVEL SECRETS,
available for Kindle for only $.99 cents: