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Inspiration in the Public Domain


One of the most frequently asked questions authors receive is, “Where do you get ideas for your stories?”

To which the answer is most often, “I don’t know.” 

Ideas come from all sorts of places: snippets of conversation, a misspoken word, an old telescope in your closet. Sometimes writers ponder them for days; other times, an idea spontaneously strikes, setting off an explosion of related ideas that erupt from pen to paper immediately.

The public domain is another source from which to draw inspiration. Public domain books are no longer under copyright, meaning anyone can use, reproduce, or distribute the work without permission from the author or publisher. A creative reimagining of a treasured classic, done well, is usually a book readers want to grab.  

You can browse books in the public domain on several sites, such as Project Gutenberg, with over 60 million ebooks to download, The Public Domain Review, and The Online Books Page

Beloved classics such as Moby DickAlice in WonderlandThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Treasure Island are in the public domain. A Google search will bring up hundreds of titles to choose from. 2024 will see works by A.A. Milne, Agatha Christie, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Franklin W. Dixon, to name a few.   

Whether you’re looking for inspiration or a cozy book, now is a great time to explore the rich literary heritage of the great authors before us. May their words live on through the ages. 

Happy Leap Day and happy writing!

Trista Herring Baughman is a blogger and Children’s writer. She is the Managing Editor of Writing from the Peak (PPW’s blog)  and  Managing Editor of Mississippi Folklore, a collaborative collection of Mississippi folklore and legends in a bi-weekly blog. Her books, The Magic TelescopeHalloween Night and Other Poemsand Zombiesaurs (which she co-illustrated with her sons), can be found at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Trista on her website.

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