Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Start of a Story

Debby Giusti here!

Readers often ask where writers find ideas for their stories. The answers are as varied and unique as the folks responding to the question. Some might say their stories took hold with a snippet of conversation or a news article in the daily paper. Others may have enhanced a what-if situation sparked from their imagination. Still others could have taken a personal experience and twisted it into a fictional tale.

I’m beginning a new story and pulling from a very different place, at least for me. Some years ago, I happened upon a television crime documentary about a murder. As the program began to unfold, I had an eerie sense of déjà vu and soon realized the alleged murderer was a man I knew.

Actually I was good friends with his younger brother during my high school years. Our parents were close, and my family and I attended the older brother's wedding. Since that time both sets of parents have passed away. I lost track of the “other” family and, thus, had no knowledge of the brutal act shown that night on TV.

The docudrama was difficult to watch, but it planted the seed of a story that begged to be written. Now, years later, I’m excited about using that documentary as the starting point for the next book in my Military Investigation series. Although completely different from the real-life case, my story will spring from an actual crime that struck too close to home.

Where do you get your ideas?

Waving to the wonderful readers who visit our blog: What unique situations have you experienced that could be developed into a story?

Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti

By Debby Giusti

Eight years ago, a drifter destroyed Becca Miller's ties to her Amish community—and murdered her family. Now a special agent with Fort Rickman's criminal investigation department, Becca knows her past has caught up with her and doesn't want to relive it. She's convinced that the killer, who supposedly died years ago, is very much alive and after her. Special agent Colby Voss agrees to help her investigate. Yet the closer they get to the truth, the closer the killer gets to silencing her permanently. 

Click here to order. 


  1. I often get the start of a story idea from something a friend or family member has said. For example, my daughter said her husband said he was too old to go back to college. That was the impetus for SMALL-TOWN DAD. My sil said she liked her new church because peopLe were more reserved that at the others they had visited. That was SMALL-TOWN SWEETHEARTS. My latest book, SMALL-TOWN MIDWIFE came from something that happened in my daughter's midwifery practice.

  2. Hi Jean,
    Thanks for sharing your story starts! Amazing how something small can grow into a full-length manuscript that editors like, buy and publish! LOL!

    The writer's mind is an amazing thing! :)

  3. How sad and eerie to realize your close connection to an alleged murderer, Debby. Becca's story sounds very intriguing. My story ideas seem to spring from a variety of places--the opening for the most recent release, Blind Trust, from Revell, came to me after my neighbor had a counterfeit five dollar bill in their ladies missionary circle collection.

  4. I've got a conterfeit idea swirling around my mind too, Sandra. Haven't done anything with it yet. I need to read BLIND TRUST! How do you like writing a longer story?

  5. I get ideas everywhere. The one I'm working on now came because I was reading a story about archeologists and a cave! The one I need to write a proposal on came while I was antiquing. The one I'm writing three chapters for came after a story a social worker told me about working on the reservation.

    Eerie, seeing someone you know on a docudrama.

  6. Fascinating situation. I hope the brother that you were friends with turned out okay.

  7. Wow, Debby, that is not the kind of deja vu anyone wants to experience. You have definitely piqued my interest in the coming book.

    As a historical author, I often get my ideas through research, whether in historical materials or when visiting historical sites. Sometimes a contemporary situation intrigues me, and I try to imagine how that would play out in a different time period.

  8. Debby, what an interesting experience. It is creepy when people we know are involved in crime. I got the story idea for my very first book for Love Inspired from a song.

  9. I write for Love Inspired Historical, so I get my ideas by going back in time via trips to the antique store, museums, historical sites or visiting other Gold Rush-era towns here in California. All I need is a spark or two, and the creative fire is fueled.

  10. That's so scary, Debby! A great way to get an idea for a book.

  11. I usually get my ideas from an article in the newspaper. When I write that story, it generates other ideas.

  12. Ack! That million dollar question usually leaves me going, "Um...um...um..."

    I'm sure that's not what readers want to hear. I nearly always "see/meet" my characters first. I usually know the meet-cute and the happily-ever-after and then I try to figure out how they got from one to the other.

    Recently I've found myself having to explain that fiction writers don't use real people in their books. My characters may look "kind of like" someone to give the art department some reference to go by, but the characters themselves are their own unique people, not strictly or even remotely based on a single living individual.

  13. OOhh, that's chilling. I usually start with the character's internal conflict and build from there.

  14. Wow! That must have been so eerie to realize you knew the person! Shivers!

  15. Carolyn, my friend--the good brother--was a nice guy. Still can't get over how the other one turned out. Oh my!

  16. Christine and Keli, thanks for sharing how you spark ideas for your historical stories.

  17. Hi Deb,
    Our characters are unique, as you mentioned. Often they take over the direction of the story...of course, that's always fun!

  18. Sherri, interesting that you start with the internal conflict. You see the struggle first, and then the story.