I get ideas from all sorts of places.Sometimes it is a snippet of conversation, a person or object in an unexpected place, or how two people I see in the street react to each other.
Often I start my story journey with one or more characters, but not always. It might be a scene that suggests a question..such as 'what happened here? or what happens next?
Look at this calm and peaceful image of beautiful sun-dappled water and an open balcony door.
It could so easily be the start of some gentle tale of romance on holiday but there has to be some kind of twist, otherwise there is no story worth telling, or reading.
Sometimes the ideas that come to mind are anything but calm.
Is this the peaceful scene before a murder, or just after? Could there be a body lying below the balcony, as yet undiscovered? What was the mayhem that preceded this quiet serenity?
Drifting into the realms of fantasy - is the rail on the balcony the spot where a small dragon alights, searching for its soul mate, a human life partner. Is it looking for only one who will save the species from extinction?
Is it a time-slip, one moment we are here and now, the next forward 500 years? The sea is the same but is the world outside this room still the unchanged or even recognisable?
What, why and how, who, where and when. These are the tools of a writer's trade, and the freedom we give our imagination.
What do you think the picture is about? In your eyes, what is the story?
Linda Strachan is the author of over 60 books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels and a writing handbook Writing For Children
Her latest YA novel is Don't Judge Me published by Strident 2012