People ask where ideas for books (or scenes within books) come from. I think one of the most important things to do is very simple: Pay attention when you laugh. If you are sharing an anecdote or a family story with a friend, and you’re laughing about it, that means there’s some gold to mine in that story.
For example, when talking with other parents about the trials of parenting teens, I would often retell the story of my brother-in-law literally taking the bedroom door of my teenage nephew off the hinges to force more transparency into the household. We’d laugh over it. Then when it came time for the father in my The Naked Mole-Rat Letters to do something radical to show his daughter than he wanted her to stop lying and hiding, he went for the power screwdriver. The scene had humor, truth, and heart…all because of that detail.