Sunday, March 2, 2008

Did Dennis Lehane Start This Way?

Very often, readers and new writers ask those of us who have circled the block a few times and have the completed manuscripts to show for it: Where do you get your ideas?

My usual answer is EVERYWHERE! However, since that might not be terribly helpful to those who seriously do want to know, here's an example of how story ideas can indeed be found EVERYWHERE.

A few days ago while I was out running errands, I stopped in at the lovely Golden Arches for a quick lunch. As I prepared to dunk my first McNugget into my chosen sauce, the lady at the table across from me came over and asked, "Are you going to be here long?"

"As long as it takes me to finish my lunch," I replied. (Obviously I exceed the size limit for the plastic tubes and paraphernalia in the "play yard.")

"Can you please keep an eye on my granddaughter while I use the restroom?" the lady asked, indicating a little girl of about four, who was busily munching a french fry.

I said I would and consumed my own fries and McNuggets while the child swung her legs and kept eating for the entire five minutes her grandmother was gone. However, once I finished and left, I was struck by how many possible story ideas presented themselves in my little scenario.
  1. The grandmother doesn't return.
  2. The grandmother returns only to find me and her granddaughter are (as in the succinct title of the DVD I recently watched) Gone Baby Gone.
  3. The grandmother returns and accuses me of abusing the child.
  4. While the grandmother is gone, the child shows me her bruises and asks me to protect her from grandma.
I think you get my drift, and I didn't even mention the hunky EMT drinking coffee at a nearby table, nor the homeless man hitting up people for change in the parking lot.

Now you know what I mean when I say ideas are EVERYWHERE, even at your local fast food joint! Who knows, maybe even Dennis Lehane (who wrote the original novel Gone Baby Gone) got ideas under the Golden Arches! Okay, maybe not.

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