Tag Archive for: writing ideas

Clicking Our Heels – A Day at the Movies

Clicking Our Heels – A Day at the Movies

The past few weeks have been so hot that people have been looking for air-conditioned places to hang out – like movie theaters. In our personal lives, we each have favorite movies and television shows with varied reasons we like them. As authors, we think about movie, television, and other visual media from the perspective of how it impacts our writing. Here’s what members of the gang think:

T.K. ThorneAs Good as It Gets with (Jack Nicholas and Helen Hunt). The characters and dialogue are so amazing, that I hunted down the script and studied it. I hope it impacted my writing!

Kathryn Lane –  Gone With the Wind – I’m a hopeless romantic! In my writing, I want readers to feel they are in that location with my protagonist – a concept surely influenced by television!

Meri Allen/Shari Randall – It’s too hard to pick one! I’m in love with the classics, everything from The Thin Man to Singin’ in the Rain. Movies and television have definitely impacted my writing. Any art that a writer comes into contact with becomes (consciously or unconsciously) part of their tool kit. I feel I’ve been influenced by everything from Murder, She Wrote to Fargo.

Donnell Bell – I love Overboard, the Goldie Hawn. Kurt Russell version. Dave, an American President (guess I’m a dreamer that politics can have a happy ending.) I saw there’s a sequel to Top Gun coming out where Tom Cruise plays the Tom Skerrit flight training character, and Val Kilmer who played Iceman recommends Cruise character for the flight trainer. I would definitely go see that. I loved Hidden Figures, In The Heat of the Night in honor of Sydney Poitier’s passing. Clearly, I haven’t seen a new release in so long!

Debra H. Goldstein – My favorite movies is Giant. Besides having Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and a cast of well-seasoned and then newbies who now are well-known, the way social issues are interwoven with the landscape and language makes me watch it anytime I find it on TV.

Lynn McPherson – I love Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Knives Out. My favorite thing about each of these films is the characters. They are a big reminder for me that great characters are essential for great books!

Debra Sennefelder – Tough question. I really don’t have a favorite movie. Movies/televisions shows can spark an idea for a plotline, location or character. Inspiration is everywhere.

Dru Ann LoveGone With The Wind.

Lois Winston – It’s too hard to choose one, so I’m going to break the rules: The Greatest ShowmanLaLa LandCasablanca, and Shakespeare in Love (not necessarily in that order.)

Linda Rodriguez – It could be one of many, but at this moment, I would say my favorite movie is The Only Good Indian, with the fabulous Wes Studi. It’s a well-researched historical movie, set at the horrible residential boarding school, which became the university at which my son teaches.

Saralyn Richard – I’m a movie buff with many favorites, but since I can only name one, I’ll say, Casablanca. That movie has it all–great dialogue, superb acting, brisk pacing, and the right amount of ambiguity to keep audiences intrigued and enchanted. Casablanca and other movies deeply impact my writing process. When I write, my characters take their places on the screen of my mind, and begin acting. All I have to do is type the cinematic scenes playing out before me.

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Blotter Fodder: “To Save Herself, She Bit the Cop on the Leg

to Go for Ideas When You Are Stuck

by Kathleen Kaska

Need an idea for a short story, blog post,
or a novel? Check out the newspapers. I don’t necessarily mean the front page.
In our town, the most entertaining reading comes from police blotters. The
reports are a wellspring of ideas for writers. Some are written
tongue-in-cheek, and I can imagine the fun police officers must have in
crafting them. 

Recently, the police in a nearby city
uncovered a murder-for-hire plot by an inmate in the county jail who was
enlisting the help of a fellow inmate to murder the man responsible for the first
guy’s incarceration. These were the instructions he gave to the would-be
killer: “Wet him with gasoline; dry him with a match.” That’s a pretty good
line; right out of a Mickey Spillane novel. If this guy ever went straight, he
might make it as a pulp fiction writer.

Or how about this one? A few weeks ago, the
police in my quiet, little town were called to a motel where a woman insisted
they arrest her. She was hiding out from her ex-husband and current boyfriend
who, according to the woman, were plotting to kill her. The cops explained they
could not fulfill her wish because she hadn’t committed a crime. With a
that’s-what-you-think attitude, she began pounding on the windshield of the
squad car. When one of the officers tried to restrain her, she bit him on the
leg. At least for the next few days, the woman had the protection she’d

And another: A guy was shoplifting at
Safeway. When the cops arrived to question him, he made his getaway on a
motorized shopping cart, which he drove down the middle of Commercial Avenue.
The shoplifter received applause from the bystanders who cheered him on as if
he were the Grand Marshall of a parade.

And one more: Several people complained
about a homeless man who was causing a ruckus in a downtown square. The police
arrived and realized the man was arguing and shouting profanities at someone
only he could see. The cops told him to apologize to his imaginary friend. He

End of story.

This is an excerpt from my book, Does Anyone Have a Catharsis Handy? Five-Minute
Writing Tips

Kathleen Kaska is the author of The
Sherlock Holmes Quiz Book
(Rowman & Littlefield Publishing
Group). She is the founder of The Dogs in the Nighttime: Holmes Society of
Anacortes, Washington, a scion of The Baker Street Irregulars. Kathleen writes
the awarding-winning Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series and the Kate Caraway
Mystery Series. Her passion for birds led to the publication The
Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story
. Kathleen’s
collection of blog posts, Do You Have a Catharsis Handy?
Five-Minute Writing Tips
 won the Chanticleer International
Book Award in the non-fiction Instruction and Insights category.

Go to her website and sign up for her newsletter. Look for
her bi-monthly blog: “Growing Up Catholic in a Small Texas Town” because
sometimes you just have to laugh.






Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! – Where Does a Story Idea Come From? – Part One

Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! – Where Does a Story Idea Come From? – Part One by Debra H. Goldstein 
 (Part Two will appear on Wednesday, January 21)

Ideas?  Where do your story ideas come from?  After people ask me whether I miss my former job (https://debrahgoldstein.wordpress.com – December 22, 2014 – “It’s Not Always a Mystery”), they invariably ask me how I come up with the ideas for the stories and books I write.  My answer is simple:  I pull them out of the air, dreams, contest or submission prompts, sentences that stick in my mind, observing a moment of human behavior that results in brainstorming, or finding an interesting fact when researching.  The key is to find the twist that distinguishes my story idea from those of other writers.

Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! is a short story that grew out of research connected to a submission call for New Orleans related stories to be published in the February 2014 Mardi Gras Murder anthology.  Having visited New Orleans, I knew I could write about food, parades, and Hurricane Katrina, but so could everyone else.  To find a new twist, I researched different possible topics, but nothing struck my fancy.  Then, in the middle of reading about scheduled Krewe events, I saw a reference to secret Mardi Gras Indian parades. More research revealed traditions and elaborate costumes tied to these below the radar African-American Indian parades that fascinated me.

I immediately knew my story would involve characters participating in a Mardi Gras Indian parade in

New Orleans, but when?  At the historic time the parades began or in a more modern time period?  I also had to find a way to make my tale more than a recitation about parades and beads.

As I strove to find a different angle, two thoughts or themes kept running through my mind, Hurricane Katrina and the idea of redemption.  The problem was that they didn’t seem to go together.
It wasn’t until I discovered the human spirit that brought all parades and celebrations back into existence after their suspension because of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina that I realized how to link the two.  From that moment, the story flowed out of me. The result is one of my very favorite and most meaningful short stories – Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief! 

Who Dat? Dat the Indian Chief was featured in the Mardi Gras Murder short story anthology in February 2014.