Sure, we come up with ideas--but they're mediocre. Or as the late Nancy Bulk (aka Dee Holmes) once explained in a writing workshop she conducted 20 years ago, they're the same ideas other people come up with. As in: our readers are going to spot what's going to happen two seconds into the scene.
Based on Nancy's excellent advice, whenever I'm plotting or searching for a GOOD idea, I use the 10 item rule. I'll grab a pen and paper and cluster (i.e., brainstorm or free-associate) to come up with a scene, or some dialogue, or character motivation that will knock my readers' socks off.
This is how it works. Let's say my heroine is in her house, alone, at night, and we know the stalker's coming to get her. How can the stalker get into the house without her knowing and then scare the pants off her?
- He'll use a key he stole from her purse or beneath the flowerpot outside the back door.
- He'll cut through the screen in the spare bedroom.
- He'll sneak in through the bulkhead door in the basement.
- He'll climb a tree in the back yard, spider-walk across the roof, and get in through the attic vent.
- He'll knock on her door, claiming to need to use the phone because his car broke down.
- He'll make a bunch of noise out in the back yard so her dog barks. When she lets the dog out, he temporarily immobilizes the dog. When she goes out in the yard to see why the dog doesn't respond, he sneaks into the house.
So where do YOUR good ideas come from? Can you give me numbers 7 through 10?
[photo credit: http://www.bigfoto.com/]