It may be a person you know very well, a story in the newspaper, a tale told by a friend, an image, a line you heard someone shout while running to catch a plane. You don’t have to know why it haunts you. In fact, that’s why you must write about it – you want to give it meaning.
You may have many interests, of which a few might be powerful enough to power a story. These are your obsessions.
Include as much of your obsessions, infatuations and confusions as possible in your writing, though maybe not the specifics which can often be boring, at least to yourself. It is time to take the kernel of an idea and make it into something different.
The three Ds: death, destruction and destiny. Where would we be without them?
Wanting to write a thriller but you don’t know what to write about? Read a few proverbs. Ideas abound in proverbs and can inspire your writing. Consider the following:
Venture a small fish to catch a big one.
When the fish is caught, the net is laid aside.
The treason is loved, but the traitor is hated.
No honour among thieves.
No man can serve two masters.
Something as simple and intriguing as browsing through a book of proverbs and quotations can start you off with some ideas.
Many well-known quotations and proverbs can make wonderful starting points for creating your characters. All of them refer to people and/or some aspect of human behaviour, thus giving instant reader-character identification.
Here are a few to start:
A bad penny always turns up
A barking dog never bites
A dog is a man’s best friend
A drowning man will clutch at a straw
A fool and his money are soon parted
A friend in need is a friend indeed
A good beginning makes a good ending
A good man is hard to find
A house divided against itself cannot stand
A house is not a home
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
A leopard cannot change its spots
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
A man is known by his friends
A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client
A new broom sweeps clean
A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse
A penny saved is a penny earned
A picture paints a thousand words
A place for everything and everything in its place
A poor workman always blames his tools
A person is known by the company he keeps
A problem shared is a problem halved
A prophet is not recognized in his own land
A rising tide lifts all boats
A rolling stone gathers no moss
Tell stories about people who have something to lose – family, careers, ideals, opportunities, reputations, hopes and dreams.
The character has to hide it but suffers emotionally (shown through guilt, anger, frustration, lies) because he cannot share the secret.