Monday, April 14, 2014

Where Does F.M. (aka Marilyn) Meredith Get Her Ideas?


Today I am hosting good friend and wonderful mystery author Marilyn Meredith. Murder in the Worst Degree, the tenth book in her rocky Bluff P.D. series, has just been released, and It’s my very favorite yet. So I asked her where she gets all her ideas since she writes two books a year, one for each of her two mysteries series. This is her answer:


Ideas are everywhere.

For instance, just by being observant and letting your imagination go wild, you can come up with all sorts of ideas. Watch people and wonder. Why is she in such a hurry? Is someone following her? Is that man on his cellphone really watching that man who is going into his house?

Another way to get ideas is to watch the news—or read about something happening on the Internet. Then ask yourself, what if it happened this way instead?

I’ve collected news stories for years, ones that I thought I could change around and use as a partial plot and I’ve done it many times. Of course no one would recognize them because they’ve been changed so much as I’ve worked them into a story.

Sometimes I’ve asked a police officer friend to tell me some outlandish thing that’s happened to him, or his most scary arrest, one that could’ve gone wrong. Once I asked for a funny vice story and got a lulu and yes, I did use it in a book.

I love to listen to cop friends share stories and yes, I’ve used many of them. Of course they are never exactly how it was told because I need to work it into a plot that works for my Rocky Bluff P.D. guys.

One of the easiest ways to pick up ideas is listen to what people say on their cell phones. Everyone talks so loud on them you can’t help but eavesdrop. And speaking of eavesdropping, listening to conversations in restaurants can sometimes trigger ideas too.

A new way to pick up ideas for both characters and plot is on Facebook. It is amazing what people reveal about themselves in such an open forum.

So really, the best advice I can give anyone about accumulating ideas is to pay attention to everything that is going on around you. Jot things down in a way that works for you. When plotting a new book, sort through all these gems and see what occurs to you.

Writing is fascinating—and so is gathering your ideas.

Thanks for hosting me today, Lorna.
Murder in the Worst Degree:

The body that washes up on the beach leads Detectives Milligan and Zachary on a murder investigation that includes the victim’s family members, his housekeeper, three long-time friends, and a mystery woman.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith is the author of over 35 published books. She enjoys writing about police officers and their families and how what happens on the job affects the family and vice versa. Having several members of her own family involved in law enforcement, as well as many friends, she’s witnessed some of this first-hand.


Once again I am offering the opportunity to have your name used for a character in a book if you comment on the most blogs during this tour for Murder in the Worst Degree.

Tomorrow you can find me visiting


  1. Thank you, Lorna, for hosting me today even though I know you are faraway having a great time.

  2. Two of my favorite people, Marilyn and Lorna! How true, Marilyn, "Writing is fascinating..." And you're so on the mark about having your senses open to the world. Good post, enjoyed!


    1. Hi, Madeline, as you know, I've had a great time writing this series.

  3. Marilyn remind me never to use my cellphone around you. :) Great post as usual. Since I write WWII romance, my ideas usually come from doing research and using the old "what if," technique, but sometimes my character's just take over and I let them tell me the story.

    1. Ah, Paul, need to know something about WWII, I was around at the time, though my romances were all grammar and high school. And characters do have their own way with their stories, don't they?

  4. Reviewed this book on Amazon yesternight! I can see you keep your senses open to the world. My husband is the expert on listening in to crazy conversations nearby when we're in restaurants, and I'll notice him snickering and have to ask what he's overhearing. Often he is the only one who can hear whatever it is. I don't *think* he is making it all up.

    1. Thank you, Shalanna for taking the time to review my book. And people do indeed say the weirdest things in public. Use your husband for research.

  5. Excellent post. I thought people watching and eavesdropping were traits I should've been trying to tame but now I'm just gonna let 'em flyyyyyyy!!

  6. Joanie, people watching and eavesdropping come with the writing territory. Keep on with it!

  7. "Just pay attention" is great advice, Marilyn. I've also picked up ideas from dreams (or nightmares)--if I remember them long enough to jot down a couple of notes before the memory flies off the twilight zone.

    1. I have some wing-dinging nightmares but usually can't remember them when I wake. Thanks for stopping by, Patricia.