If you want a good chance of seeing an author cringe, ask them where they get their ideas. Very many of us don't really know. They just happen along. Often like buses. Nothing for ages, then too many to count. If you're lucky some of them will ease the congestion by combining and making themselves into plot and sub plots. Like a big bendy bus?
I think this bus thing is getting out of hand - you can tell I'm waffling, can't you? All this began when I got a request from Paula Williams to say something about inspiration for her column The Idea Store in Writers' Forum magazine. Luckily she asked me particularly about heroes and heroines, so I was able to talk about that, which was much easier than ideas in general.
But of course it got me thinking. You can never stop a writer doing that. 'Where can I hide the body?' 'Is she really going to do that!' 'Where did I leave my glasses?' (The last happens a lot, even when I have them on a string round my neck.)
I didn't really get anywhere, except to the conclusion that a lot of my 'inspiration' is as much about atmosphere as it is about ideas. A theatre set, the interior of a church, a painting, a dark street in the rain, sometimes a piece of music - they all feed into a feeling that might come out in a book. But none of them are actually ideas. Except perhaps the painting - I might be thinking about stealing that. And the dark street might have a serial killer waiting ...
It's not so much about ideas as a kicking off point - something that gets you thinking. But if you're a working writer, you don't sit and wait for it or you'd be forever looking at a blank page/computer screen.
So it's a good thing that those buses are there, queueing up.