"Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable." ~Francis Bacon, Sr., English lawyer and philosopher
There's nothing better than a story idea that comes out of nowhere, sparking the imagination with no provocation. Each morning as a writing warm-up, I write 100 words on whatever topic comes to mind. This morning I was penning words about my WIP when I found myself writing instead about an octogenarian named Jed. I have no idea where this character came from or why he started to tell me his story at that moment, but I allowed him to talk. And talk. He's been walking beside me all day, and I've listened carefully as he's shared stories about his life: about his father, who died at a young age; about the years when Jed ran away from home; about the wife that Jed recently lost and the children who rarely visit... All day long, the words have continued to flow. I'm not sure exactly where this character will lead me--I don't know whether he's a main character in a short story or a minor character in a novel--but I'm thrilled to be going along for the ride.
These moments don't come to me often; a character I've never met before doesn't usually start whispering his life story. But I'm always grateful for these unsought thoughts, these ideas that come unbidden to take root in my mind and heart.