This is "the" writer question. I mean it's not the only one, but almost always writers are asked this question and invariably they either say they don't know and lapse into some kind of quasi-mystical explanation about the magic of the universe and planets aligning or they say "everywhere" which is true, but pretty damn vague.
I haven't yet started networking to attract more readers to this blog, so it's a pretty small reading audience right now, but I'm going to ask "Where do you get your ideas?" And I'll also tell you where I get some of mine:
I think when people ask this question what they really want is a charming anecdote. How did YOU get THAT idea. I'm not sure it's meant to be as general a question as it comes out, but maybe it is. Anyway...I find that ideas come in all sorts of forms. I've had a few ideas come to me in dreams. Practically entire primary plot lines on a few occasions have arrived this way. Add a couple of subplots and voila. (It's not that simple, I have to take out the dancing monkeys of course...unless they add to the plot, but you get my point.)
This past year for nanowrimo (National novel writing month: http://www.nanowrimo.org ) I was going to try to bring back a dying corpse of a novel I wrote which was on the third draft and not getting any fresher. I was feeling pretty apathetic about it because let's face it, some novels are practice novels. Not everything can be fixed. Maybe I should say, not everything can be fixed at this time. There might come a day when I'll be able to fix that one. I like to remain adorably optimistic about it.
Anyway...I'm derailing here...So it was three days before nanowrimo and I was driving down the road and practically an entire plot fell into my head. I saw this beautiful old house I've loved since I was a kid and then this story started playing out in my head. And I had a basic idea. I fleshed the idea out into an outline and formed a mythology to get me through the first draft and away I went. It needs some work, but it's the cleanest rough draft I've written.
Some ideas come to me in pieces, and those can be fun. You get a tiny piece of the puzzle over here, then at another time and place you get a completely unrelated idea and then those two ideas get together and have coffee and decide they'd like to go steady. That's always fun. Today I had two different occurences, one involving a seemingly bland statement on a message board and another involving a cat, and from that two characters came up to me and were like "So yeah, we want to get together for coffee, do you think you could hook us up?"
I tend to write all my ideas out in a notebook, and date them and label them and do insane fussy things with them, because we all have our little quirks. And I like to make a note of how I got the idea because I'm quite sure that at some point when I have a published novel out, someone is going to ask me, "Where do you get your ideas?" And I'll have a charming little anecdote, at least for that story.
So that's me, or at least a couple of recent ones. What about you? Where do you get your ideas?