Monday, December 21, 2009

An Abundance Of Story Ideas

I so often hear writers say they get stuck for story ideas, both fiction and nonfiction writers. It puzzles me as I seem to find ideas everywhere. Sometimes in great abundance.

Like today for instance. Ken and I ran over to a very nice, upscale outdoor mall in Highland Village, a northern suburb of Dallas. We parked near a Jos. A. Banks store, walked down to a shop where I bought a gift card, the final Christmas gift I had to buy.

Ken said he wanted to take a look in the Banks shop since we were so close.

He found a bargain too good to pass up—a beautiful sport coat for a mere fraction of its regular price. We walked around the store, selected a shirt and tie to go with the coat and wandered over to the check-out counter. We spent about half an hour in the shop, and in that time I witnessed an abundance of stories waiting to be written.

1. The little girl who sat huddled in a corner, playing with a handheld game while her dad stood impatiently in line to pay for the blue and white shirt he held. Dad kept checking on her and asking if she was hungry. He finally tossed the shirt on the counter and said to me, “She’s hungry and I’m starving. I can’t wait any longer.”

2. The short Indian man who had a pile of clothes on the counter and waited patiently as the clerk scanned the prices while the computer had a temper tantrum when he tried to bring up the sale prices. The young man tried again and again, becoming more and more frustrated. The customer never said a word, just watched. When the total came to over $2,800, the man slid one pair of pants out of the pile and softly said, “I don’t need these.” The young clerk threw up his hands and turned for help to the older woman working at another computer.

“Abort the whole thing!” she said to him.

3. The young, blonde woman who was returning a topcoat and getting 2 belts, 2 shirts and 3 sweaters instead. The woman checking her out was also having computer problems, too high a tax and no way to change it. She appeared calm on the outside, but I sensed a great churning on the inside.

4. The two thirty-something women behind us who were aghast at the terrific deal Ken had gotten on his sport coat. Envy is the only word that might describe their faces and actions.

So, look around you. There are story possibilities everywhere!We're rraveling home to Kansas today, We usually make around three short stops along the way, and I've no doubt that I'll run into a few story ideas.

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