Writers get asked that all the time. The simple answer is that we make them up. The more complicated answer is that we observe life, mix things around a bit and come up with what is hopefully interesting, if not, exciting.
Take my neighbor, please!! (Thank you, Henny Youngman). But seriously, my neighbors are a great source of material. Because I try so hard to ignore there idiosyncrasies (read: scum-bags), it’s only the truly moronic triumphs or their ultimate asshole exhibitions that get my attention.
How does this become a story?
Honestly, the process is different depending on how I’m feeling, that I can not change. But I can share how it works in this particular case.
The facts, Watson, just the facts:
1) The neighbor is an ex-military guy who was trained to be an electrician.
2) Going through a mid-life crisis. At 40+ he decided to buy a motorcycle and play biker.
3) He protects and gets nervous about what he calls, his “man-cave”.
4) There is a strange humming noise that comes from his house, periodically.
5) When his house hums, my house lights blink.
6) This only happens when he’s home. When he was gone on vacation, no hum (his house) and no lights blinking (my house).
7) The service guy from the electrical company said that it seemed someone in the neighborhood had something pulling a lot of electricity but he couldn’t be sure which house.
Add bits that are seemingly unrelated
Alta Vista Search for the following:
1) Electro magnetic fields
a. Learn about electrostatic, magnetostatic and electrodynamic.
2) Electro magnetic device
a. Surprise > E-bombs < top the list
In further reading, I find that the pulses of electro static energy can disrupt power within a short distance.
b. The government believes that terrorists may use this type of device to disrupt our communications and defense systems.
So the story might be:
A mid-life crisis, disgruntled former military guy who has decided to disrupt commerce and is planning to attack the largest retailer (the HO or home office is just a few miles away) in the country with his device to wipe out not only their systems but their sister company, a banking institution with which he had a less than pleasant relationship.
An electrician gone mad sets out to contaminate the country with E-bombs by traveling from biker rally to biker rally setting up a network of drunken neophytes he’ll use to create chaos.
But the REAL story is more than likely the piece of shit is stealing electricity from the power lines, reducing it in his basement without a proper Faraday cage or grounding, and my house, for whatever reason is the recipient of parasitic pulses, or maybe the jerk really is a terrorist?