So the question usually goes, where did you get the idea for this story? Sympathy of a Gun started out as a story that was all about ideas. I wrote about the problems I had with most alien invasion stories, the relationship that existed in my head between AI's and animal domestication, and why space travel actually kind of sucks. Very Important Ideas went into this story.
The first draft ended up being really long and boring.
That's the thing with ideas. They may be the critical skeleton of any story, but those bones are dry when they're bare. They need to be shrouded in the flesh and blood of conflict and character. Without drama, without soap opera, an idea is an essay, not a story. So the question shouldn't be, where did I get the idea for this story? The question should be, what made the ideas in this story work?
Emily. The main character.
Bitter and smart, terrified and pissed. She's confrontational, demanding, a troublemaker. One of those people who seem to exist just to argue. That's what made this story work. Before she popped into my head, all those ideas were just lying there, useless. Boring.
Until Emily barged in and gave those ideas meaning. She might be a made up person, but I hope that you can see her when you read the story. Because if you do, if you can know her and understand her for a little bit, then the story, and all of its ideas, work.