Monday, September 7, 2015

The Spark of a Story

I learned how to be a writer from a cop. And I don’t even write suspense or anything to do with cops.

Confused yet? Let me explain myself.

When I was a child, my Dad was a frequent watcher of the American TV Show, COPS. The show is an American documentary/reality legal series that follows police officers, constables, sheriff’s deputies, federal agents and state troopers during patrols and other police activities including vice and narcotic stings. It premiered in 1989 and is one of the longest-running television programs in the United States.

Now, how does this TV show figure into being a writer?

Well, in one episode, there was a female cop in her patrol vehicle cruising up and down city streets and talking to the camera about her usual routine. She talked about the area she patrolled and then something she said stuck out to me as vividly now as it did to my eight-year-old self who decided to do the same in her everyday world.

She spoke of creating imaginary scenarios wherever she went: if this bank was being robbed what would I do? If I came upon a car wreck how would I react? What if there was someone standing on the ledge of this ten-story office building?

Unknowingly with her questions, this cop taught me the spark of a story—the story question that guides writers, especially in fiction. What if?

I started to look out the window of our family’s car and ask myself questions: “What if this were happening here?” or “What if I saw this person doing this in front of that store?”
In later years when I began the pursuit to become a novelist and began voraciously reading blogs and attending writer’s conferences and absorbing all I could about the craft and industry I realized that the spark of writing a novel was in me all along. I knew how to draw upon my vivid imagination and ask “What if?”

It was an epiphany to say the least. And one that I’m glad came about thanks to my Dad’s obsession with law enforcement television programs. You never know where inspiration will strike, do you? All it takes is “What if?” and off you go.

For all those in the USA and Canada, Happy Labor/Labour Day! Enjoy your day off! J And I hope everyone has a great week!

What was an epiphany moment in your writing journey? Perhaps it was a similar moment to mine? Or maybe when someone first said they loved your writing or encouraged you to be a writer? I’d love to hear about it!

Morgan Tarpley is an award-winning newspaper reporter and photographer in Louisiana. She is also a historical novelist currently seeking representation. Besides writing and traveling to over a dozen countries, her interests include acting in her local theater, genealogy, photography, and singing. She resides in Louisiana with her husband.

For more information about Morgan, visit her website ( and blog ( You can also connect with her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, orGoodreads.

1 comment:

  1. Morgan, I agree, the 'what if...' question is the spark that sets off my overactive imagination. Thanks for sharing with us :)