Writing Wednesday: Story Ideas

My report on last week’s goals:

I posted my own blog on schedule, and exceeded my commenting on others’ blogs (not by much, but exceeding is still exceeding.)

“Schizo the Magnificent” made it back out to market. While I was submitting it, I discovered that “Unaware” had been rejected by the same market (but they don’t even send out an email notification – you have to check their site to see the status of your submission. Something to watch out for if you’re submitting. I have a spreadsheet I’ve been using since I first started submitting in 2008, so over that time I’ve built up a record that tells me how long it should take a particular market to reject my work, and on those markets I’ve submitted to, that tells me when to check and see what’s happened. But on a market where I’ve never submitted before, this does not help me.

I wrote six days again last week, but again my words-per-week quota (not too badly) with 1.991 (of 3,000.) This was done in part as I finished “Imperial Imperilment” (Herc Tom #8, which is just over 13,000 words), just in time for its release date last Friday (which means I made that deadline.) The rest of my production was on Herc Tom #9 (sitting at 15,750 words, still in search of a name – maybe “Like Cats and Dogs.”) Before I finalize this one, I’m most likely going to start work on #10 (the one that will FINALLY be called “Cat’s Paw”), so I can finish that story arch. After that, I’ll be switching to the rough draft of my second novel (most likely my Swordsmaster sequel, but I never can be sure what’s going to take hold until it does. Just saying…


When I first started writing, I used to be afraid that I would run out of ideas, so when one would occur to me I’d write it down. After a while I had built up a list of more story ideas than I could attack in a year. I have written over 90 short stories in the last decade, and have only gone back and looked at those ideas a handful of times (and maybe used two of the saved ideas.) From this I learned several things:

  1. I have no problem coming up with new story ideas.
  2. Story ideas go stale – I find that an idea I was excited about when I recorded it a year or more ago no longer looks interesting to me. (Ideas for stories that aren’t fresh are harder to write.)
  3. No matter how detailed my notes are, my interpretation of the idea has changed from when I wrote it down (it’s not the same idea.)

My story ideas come from different places.

Herc Tom stories come from wondering what will happen next to my Champion of the Empire and in his universe. The series is mostly character, (and cat,) and universe driven. I look at where the characters were “last week,” and come up with the next big thing to disrupt their lives.

Each Detective Jimmy Delaney story is based on a particular pseudo-science idea – different ways for people to be murdered, or my own projection of how a near-future piece of technology might be misused criminally. Flash-drive implant brain-washing, radio-frequency generated heart attacks, killing with infrasound embedded in music, subliminals, even Viagra. Whatever it is, Jimmy has to solve it without being put through too much pain.

The rest of my short stories tend to come to me unasked for (another reason not to bother with saving ideas.) A scene will appear (the colonial merchant in a modern-day Philadelphia rainstorm, bent over the newspaper machine in “Passed Life”), or I’ll start muttering a monologue or dialogue (the opening of “The Pipes”), or a play on words (“Dredging Things Up.”) I have to write the story when it comes to me, and it’s a good thing that it’s short fiction, because if it takes too long to finish, the idea morphs away from itself and falls apart.

Novel ideas come from the same sort of things, but they require an idea that grows in my mind enough to stick around for over 20,000 words and more than six months (I may be guessing at that time-span – I HAVE only written one novel so far, and that idea stayed with me for over thirty years. But I do know that I can’t take more than a couple of months to write a short fiction or the idea dies – unless its roots in me are so deep that it can’t help but keep growing (boy, that sounds poetic without really meaning anything, doesn’t it?)

Where do you get your ideas?


I’m participating in Smashwords’ site-wide Authors Give Back promotion, which is being


held to show support for people around the world suffering through isolation during the coronavirus pandemic. All of my collections (including my Detective Jimmy Delaney and Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series) AND Swordsmaster are on sale for 30%-off. The link to my eBooks on Smashwords is here:


The promotion ends this Friday (April 20th.) There’s a coupon on the page for each eligible eBook – ENJOY!


Swordsmaster – my first novel – is ready for your reading pleasure, so give it a read, won’t you?

Fate is neither something to run away from, nor something to run towards.

Swordsmaster4The first bright-eye to be seen on the mountain in living memory, Sandrik didn’t want anyone to think of him as they did the ominous Aurae of legend, so he had worked hard to keep his special abilities hidden. But there was more to Sandrik than even he knew. Now that it was time for him to enter the ancient ruins of Taernfeld and be declared a man, what other changes might he be forced into?

Swordsmaster is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords (with a Smashwords Authors Give Back coupon): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/954501

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WNK79FM


ImperialImperilmentCoverWilliam Mangieri’s writing (including Cats of War II, his latest collection of Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire tales) can be found in many places, including, but not limited to:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri

• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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