Several months ago, we released an episode of The Write Approach called “Where Do Story Ideas Come From?” in which Barbara Hinske and I talked about the various sources inspiration that had been the catalyst for novels. For my own writing, novels have arisen out of dreams and nightmares (Vulcan Rising) and from conversations with other people (Casual Business with Fairies). Even a throw-away line spoken by someone on a podcast I was listening to has sparked a short story (The Murder Tree).

But what we didn’t talk about is what a new story idea feels like when it hits you. For my daily devotional this morning, I was reading in the book of Job. In the fourth chapter, one of Job’s friends is speaking to him, and says, “A word was brought to me in secret; my ears caught a whisper of it.” Job 4:12.

Very often for me, that is what a new story idea feels like — something that I caught a whisper of. And I have to write it down before it dissipates on the wind and is lost forever. That applies not only to story ideas in whole, but to lines of dialog and particular phrases within the stories themselves. Story ideas are such fragile things until we build a house of words around them.

Now, I need to get back to writing my fifth novel. I have some ideas for the current chapter, including a couple of particular lines of dialog I’ve already jotted down, because I didn’t want the whisper of them to be carried off.