Inspiration for a Story

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by Sandra Robbins

When I first started writing, I was somewhat shocked to find that I would be an active participant in the marketing of my books. So I said a prayer and jumped right in.

Besides all the resources available online, I found one of the things I enjoyed doing most was talking with readers. Over the last few years I’ve been invited to speak at many different venues, but I find all of them have had one thing in common. Readers ask this question over and over-Where do you get the inspiration for your stories?

I’ve pondered this question a lot as I’ve thought about the books I’ve written. Where do my suspense stories with a killer on the loose come from? What made me decide to write about a midwife when I have very little medical knowledge?

I began to analyze the books I’d written, and I discovered something that all my books, both romantic suspense and historical romance, had in common. Whether historical or contemporary, they’d all been set in the South, and they each dealt with families who have strong ties to each other and feel a kinship to the place where they live. I came to realize I could have been writing about myself, a woman with dreams and ambitions who grew up in a loving family with roots that went back generations in the South. My new understanding prompted me to change the description on my website to Christian Fiction-Southern Style.

Some writers begin with the characters and some with the plot. Mine usually begin with setting, somewhere I’ve visited and enjoyed, then the characters and finally the plot. Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains became the setting for three books about God’s faithfulness to the Martin family, tiny Ocracoke Island off the coast of North Carolina was featured in three books about a family of law enforcement officers, three women who suffered through the Civil War searched for love in Alabama’s black belt in the Alabama Brides series, and the dramatic passage in the Tennessee legislature of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote became the inspiration for my latest book.

A Lady's Choice 3

A Lady’s Choice chronicles the journey of a Sarah Whittaker who turns her back on love and journeys to Washington D.C. to join suffragists who are demonstrating at the White House gates. When the women are arrested for blocking sidewalk traffic, they are sentenced to Occaquan Workhouse and the cruel treatment of the guards there.

Many women today have no idea how those brave women suffered to insure the vote for generations of women to come.

We as writers approach storytelling in various ways. Each must find what works best for us. My prayer is that you will search your minds and your hearts and find your inspiration for the stories God has placed there. When you do, write them down, and you will bless the lives of others.

Sandra Robbins Sandra Robbins, former teacher and principal, is an award winning multi-published author of Christian fiction who lives with her husband in Martin, TN, where she grew up. Angel of the Cove, her first book in the Harvest House Publishers historical romance series Smoky Mountain Dreams, released in August, 2012, and was recently named the 2013 winner in the Single Title Inspirational Category of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Mountain Homecoming, the second in the series, released in March 2013. The third book Beyond These Hills will release in September. In April 2013 Summerside released A Lady’s Choice which chronicles the plight of suffragists who picketed the White House to gain the vote for women.
A three book romantic suspense series titled The Cold Case Files will release from Love Inspired Suspense later this year. To find out more about Sandra and her books, visit her at her website at

Comments 0

  1. Sandra, I enjoyed reading your blog post. It made me consider my own sources of inspiration for the fiction I write. Like you, I have been inspired by setting and history. At the same time, I have discovered that I am most inspired by the complex issues that harm relationships. My stories almost always end up exploring the bonds that should link us in love but that often separate us through hurt and misunderstanding. After reading your post, I realize that my desire is to be used by God to bring healing and restoration to those wounded by broken relationships and to show that God not only can heal but also wants to heal.

    Thank you very much for your insightful post.


    MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA, MA
    Truth through Fiction (R)
    Harbourlight Books, 2012

  2. Beautiful post. I absolutely loved A Lady’s Choice. But then I love all your books.

    I think most writers write about themes that have made a difference in their lives. As I look at the books I’ve written, the theme I write about most often is the absent father…because that’s what made a difference in my life.

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