WHERE DO IDEAS COME FROM -- I am often asked this question, not only by friends but other writers. For every writer this is a matter of approach and style and lucky happenstance. Some will hear a snippet of conversation, see an interesting character or random action, or have a theme they wish to explore.
In my case, I tend to get an idea first as a title that encapsulates the story idea or thesis succinctly and visually if at all possible.
For example, I was sitting in the Grasshopper coffeeshop in Amsterdam sampling the Moroccan hashish when a group of 5 American exchange students sat down at the next table. We struck-up a conversation. They asked what I was doing there in Amsterdam and I told them I was in Germany for a wedding and took a side trip to Amsterdam for the coffeeshops. And that, as a writer, I was looking for ideas.
One of them said they wanted to be a writer. I told him his experience sounded to me like the beginning of an interesting story. Soon they left, but I sat there thinking about what had just occurred. A title came to me: AMSTERDAM DAZE, with the story being about 5 American exchange students in Amsterdam for one night -- what could possibly go wrong. Then the story develops like "ten little Indians" where they start dying mysteriously.
The next summer I returned to Amsterdam for a month, having pitched the idea to a producer friend at Paramount. As part of my research, I sought out a homicide detective for an interview. Since then, Simon and I have become great friends. And he is now Hollands top TV Writer/Producer (his show is last pic).
I wrote a treatment, presented it to my friend at Paramount. But, as is often in Hollywood, the studio went into "turnaround" and he lost his producer position. By the time he landed at 20th Century Fox, the idea was dead and so was the project.
Oh well, there are other ideas out there waiting to be discovered. Happy writing to you all.