I've been parking in a new garage for work lately. So, instead of a twelve block jaunt, it's one... but I'm, like, number ninety on a waiting list so I have to do the daily parking until then. Anyway, the new parking garage in under the statehouse building so all three levels are below grade.
I tell you this so I can answer a reader submitted question as to how I come up with various topics and ideas I've written about, plan to write about, or I'm currently writing about.
In this particular instance, I've started jotting down notes due to the following observations and current events:
- I park in a subterranean parking garage
- The parking garage is directly under a state capital
- The parking garage is always crawling with State Troopers
- The Statehouse generally contains elected officials and occasionally the Governor
- I've been watching the TV show Jericho on Netflix
- POTUS is verbally sparing with NK over missile and weapons programs
I have more, but if you take those six things, a little whimsy, some creative license, and you have the makings of some rather interesting post apocalyptic fiction. Sometimes it's just as easy as that for me to trigger myself into the creative process.
Once you have the concept or what you think you want to write about, you transition from casual observer to problem solving sleuth. You start asking yourself questions based on story or character driven situations and then try to solve those issues. The key is to take copious notes, not only of your observations, but also the manner in which you think you may have reconciled something.
For example, item number three above. I was walking to my car after work and happened across a State Trooper. I introduced myself and even fired up the Amazon app on my phone so he could see that I was a published author and wouldn't think I was a complete loon for the questions I was about to ask him. Based on that two minute conversation, I was able to learn what State Troopers keep in their vehicles as part of their standard load out. There is, of course, some customization based on the Trooper's preferences and patrol area.
The minute I got in my car, I retrieved my little black book of notes (Moleskiin of course...) and jotted down what he'd told me. For the record, the standard posture for a State Trooper's vehicle is:
- Robust medical kit
- Road flares
- Wet weather gear
- Cold weather gear (as the seasons dictate)
- Assault rifle (AR-15)
- Riot shotgun
I stopped short of asking him how many rounds they typically carry as that might have ended badly. Probably with me in cuffs being questioned despite the fact that I am a published author. Through observation though, I determined that, on their person, they carry:
- Bullet proof vest
- Service weapon
- At least two loaded spare magazines
- Mace/pepper spray
These notes were written down as well.
You take all of the stand alone things and mix 'em up and the next thing you know you have the makings of a new fiction piece tentatively titled, Subterranean.