Appealing as the notion of an idea shop is, it really isn’t necessary. Ideas are all around us all the time. Really!!
Some writers find inspiration in careers they’ve had; education; family experiences and family histories. Other sources for ideas are in newspapers, magazines, the Internet. We’ve all seen medical thrillers written by doctors, legal thrillers written by lawyers, mysteries based on cooking, on knitting and on quilting.
Most of my own ideas have come from simply looking and listening. Inspiration is never very far away. The idea for my story George came to
Driving along another country road with a friend, she pointed to a pretty frame cottage and remarked, rather casually, that the cottage was supposed to be haunted. From that casual remark came the ghost in For Elise. My story, Sugar and Spice to be published in Thirteen, had its origins in an incident described by a former student of mine, and Stooping to Conquer (EFD1: Starship Goodwords, Carrick Publishing) was inspired by the commentary of a tour guide in one of the great country houses in Ireland, which I visited many years ago.
A favourite technique is one I came across from author Anne Bernays in her book What If (HarperCollins). Consider a perfectly ordinary situation, then add a “what if” question. For example, you are driving home from the supermarket and stop for a red light. What if a man opens the door on the passenger side, jumps in and points a gun at you and tells you to keep driving? There you have a complication and the beginning of what might be an exciting plot.
Award-winning author and teacher (and the most recent of the Mesdames) Rosemary Aubert, gave each of the students in her class at Loyalist in June a little notebook to keep track of ideas. In fact, I’ve been keeping an “Ideas” notebook for years. It’s crammed full of my jottings, musings, and clippings from newspapers and magazines that could morph into a short story or novel one day.
Carry a little notebook around and jot down ideas as they occur. Who knows? If you don’t use them in a story, perhaps you could open a Stephen King-type Idea Shop of your own and send a box of ideas to authors every month.