I get paranoid, sometimes, that I am lifting a story idea wholesale from another source. I have no concrete evidence that I'm doing so, but that nagging sensation between my shoulderblades persists until I sit it down for a little talk. I got that with "Wings" when the story idea was first born--I remain half-certain that there is a short story out there somewhere that I read back in the depths of many years ago that involved angel wings and escape. In the course of developing my story, I deliberately moved away from the vague snippets of setting and mood that I could remember about that other (possibly imaginary) story. "Crowmaker" has come so vividly to life for me now that I got that itchy feeling this morning. In that case, I think that sensation derives from the fact that I *am* lifting the current draft of the story from a previous story--the one I wrote a few weeks ago. It's a good feeling, when the story grows its own voice and you feel more like you're transcribing than making things up yourself. I will not look the gift horse in its mouth.
It's amusing how, when I have no current project, my muse will often just clam up and refuse to speak to me at all. When I'm working on something, the ideas fly around and smack me upside the head. This is a common happening, apparently. I dutifully write down the new idea and then ask the muse to shush for a little bit while we work on *this* story for a while now, please.
Over 1,000 new words yesterday, plus some research and a really sketchy map with place names to keep me from going nuts trying to remember what I called something. So far today, more map names, more research-type reading, and 700 new words.
I was browsing blogs a couple of days ago and came across a fun little activity. When I tried to retrace my steps today and find it again, of course I couldn't. (If someone recognizes this and does recall where it came from, poke me.) In short, the author gave three links to click on. The first turned up a random Wikipedia article--the title of it became the name of your band. The second turned up a page of random famous quotations. Take the last four words of the final quote on the page, and that's your album's title. Third link was a page of random Flickr photos--third pic on the top row was the album cover. This was far more entertaining that it really should be, and of course my writerly mind went "Ooooh. Drop the band name part and make it a book title and cover, and we could use this to brainstorm story ideas. OOOOOH!"
It is also handy for making up blog titles that may be completely irrelevant, but still sound cool.