By Chandra Smith
One of my favorite things at a writer’s conference is the mealtime conversations with other writers about their stories and their characters. It is probably the only place writers can talk about the people in their heads and be understood.
What inspires your story? Is it a conversation overheard in a crowded restaurant, or sunlight coming through the window casting a lacey shadow on the wall, a dog’s howl or an owl’s hoot? Fact, fiction, rainy days, snow-covered barns, couples walking on the beach, a lonely man on a park bench, or a child on a swing can inspire the next best seller. Sometimes I think the things birthed in a novelist’s mind are as interesting as the novel.
While there are many rules–or shall I call them guidelines–in writing fiction, the creation of stories has no rules, guidelines, instructions or boundaries. There’s healing balm when we allow our minds to play. Do you feel bogged down in your editing, stuck in the plot, or unsure what to do next? Give yourself permission to daydream. I am convinced the Creator of our stories loves creating new ones in our minds. And, when He gives us the little morsels of inspiration, He asks us to trust His reason, His timing, and His story.
Here is one of my inspirations. My grandmother told me about this when I was a little girl. I remembering saying someone should write about it. I never knew I would be the one to do so. And while I am not an historical writer, I used it in a contemporary story.
On December 24, 1839, my great-great-great-Uncle John M. Davis married Elizabeth Everett after a short courtship. John dreamed about his future bride. In the dream, he saw where she lived, the route to her house, what he should wear, how she’d be dressed, and how to introduce himself to her father. The following morning he dressed as he’d seen in the dream, mounted his horse and followed the route from his home in Lenoir County, North Carolina seventy miles to Tar Landing. He arrived around suppertime and introduced himself to her father. He informed Mr. Everett he came to court his daughter. John was invited to stay for dinner. When Elizabeth came downstairs for supper, she wore the exact dress he saw in his dream. Everything occurred exactly as it had in his dream. This is recorded on page 201 of The Heritage of Lenoir County, North Carolina.
I think my Uncle John would tell us to go ahead and follow our dreams. If you have a moment today, why not share about the amazing things God uses to inspire your stories? I am eager to read them!
Chandra Smith has been a member of ACFW since 2006. She is a 2015 Genesis Winner in the Novella category, 2015 Genesis Finalist, 2013 and 2014 Genesis semi-finalist, and a 2014 bronze medalist in the MBT Frasier contest. Chandra is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owns Best Friend Dog Training. She writes the column “Letters From the Dog House” for The Evening Sun. She lives on a small farm in South Central Pennsylvania with her husband, four sons, and four dogs. She writes romantic suspense and contemporary fiction. Her stories are filled with faith, forgiveness, and lovable canine characters.