Story Ideas?

People frequently ask me where I get my story ideas. Some have even hinted that writers must be given a box, like those old metal cookie tins, when they decide to be writers and the box contains all the story ideas they’ll ever need.


I’ve come to believe that there are as many sources of story ideas as there are writers. Many of my ideas come in the way of images.


Journey to Riverbend began with an image of a man standing on a ridge looking down on a small town, eyes drawn to the church steeple. That triggered the question, “What is he doing there?” The answer led to the story of searching, faith, restoration and reconciliation.


The idea for my contemporary novel, Mr. Latham’s Lincoln, came when we were on a road trip. A pick-up passed us towing a Lincoln Town Car on a flat bed. It triggered the question, “Why is he doing that?” That question led to the story of a wife who disappears, devastating her husband and father-in-law. Her reason for disappearing would destroy not only her family, but her church.  A seemingly insignificant, every-day, event led to a story of faith, hope, love, redemption, spiritual and emotional healing, and restoration.


One of my stories began with the image of an intoxicated woman banging on a door, trying to get in to a house. I even knew her name, Sara Keaton. As I pondered this image, the question came to me, “What if God told the widow of a man killed by a female drunk driver to not only forgive the driver, but to minister His love to her while she was in prison?”


There are limitless sources of ideas for stories because our God is a limitless God. He has called all of us to be His witnesses to the world. For writers, He has called us to witness Him to the world through our stories. Stories that will show people Him, that will heal, and that will inspire.


When we give Him ourselves, our obedience to His call, He will give us a super abundance of ideas and the words to tell the stories He wants told.


10 Responses to Story Ideas?

  1. caroline September 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    This is so true. I,too often hear from God in a visual way. It is amazing how He can speak to me through changing dirty diapers, or through a powerful lesson learned from my small kids. I couldn’t agree more with you, that when your desire is to be as faithful and obedient as you can be, He will honor your story of faith. I am blessed by you, friend. 🙂

  2. Sue Watson September 5, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    It was good to read how you found your ideas. I’ll have to think on that.

  3. Henry September 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    Thank you, Sue. I’ll probably post again on this next week. God kept giving me more things to share.

  4. Henry September 5, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    Thank you, Caroline. And the feeling is mutual. You have been a blessing to me.

  5. Stephenia September 6, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    So true. It’s always interesting to know how an author gets his ideas. Thanks for sharing!

  6. TNeal September 6, 2011 at 1:25 am #

    Henry, does this mean “Mr. Latham’s Lincoln” has gone or will go to press? I enjoyed what little I read way back when. For me, the one story completed and the current WIP really have taken off with a visions of their respective climactic scenes. The question always has been: so how does the story lead to that moment? Blessings–Tom

  7. Julie Marx September 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Fun post, Henry. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Henry September 6, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    Thank you, Tom. I have submitted Mr. Latham’s Lincoln yet. It will probably go to my editor in early October.

  9. Henry September 6, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    Thank you, Julie.

  10. Henry September 6, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    Thanks, Steph. It’s always good to hear from you.

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