Thursday, February 11, 2010

An Idea Germ

Sounds kind of icky, right?

All stories begin with an idea germ. The question is - where do you find the germ? An idea germ grows in your imagination. Nurtured, it can grow into an amazing story.

To search your imagination for that germ, many processes can be taken. Brainstorming, free writing, and association are a few examples.

Brainstorming can come in many methods. One is to start with a single word and branch out from that word. This is also called mind mapping. Once you've completely exhausted your thoughts, an idea can form from the words.

Example: Nurse-needle-death-scrubs-doctor-blood-gunshot-victim-assailant.

An idea germ - A gunshot victim is admitted to the hospital, where the main character works. She discovers that the victim is her father, who left her mother before the main character was born. Determined to find his assailant, she visits the areas of his life and discovers more than she wants to know.

Okay, not great, but you get the idea.

Free writing starts with a blank paper and a free flow of your thoughts. A time can be set, or an amount of words set. You write fast and don't stop till you've reached your goal. Within the words, you will most likely find your germ.

Association deals with pulling from story titles, words from the dictionary, or even a movie idea. This process can stem into brainstorming and/or free writing.

Example: Free Willy: What would happen if the animal was not a whale, but an alien? Okay, E.T. has been done, but what if the alien was your little brother. The discovery of the younger boy's ability to explode things has interested the government and they take him away. Determined to get his brother back, he embarks on a journey of danger and discover.

Okay, well, that was more of a 'what if' process, but you get the idea.

That felt good. I've been so caught up with writing for the Examiner, that I haven't been exercising my creative muscles.

So, where do you find your idea germs?


Aubrie said...

This is a very interesting techinque! I'll have to try it. I get a lot of my ideas from pictures (I'm a visual person) and driving in the car. (One of my jobs is 1 hour and ten minutes away).

Anonymous said...


Yes, pictures are also a great source. I've produce a couple of stories from tarot card images.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post Cher. I've tried the methods you mentioned. I've also used pictures like Aubrie mentioned.

I have an idea jar that I'm constantly adding ideas to. If I get stuck for an idea, I draw an idea from the jar and start writing. It's worked for me so far.

Anonymous said...

Susanne, I have heard of that process, but haven't tried it out. Perhaps I will in the future.

jdsanc said...

I totally don't know where. Sometimes it's a dream, sometimes a word, but most times, just slips up on me and starts growing. But I do love the exercise you describe. I do that free flow sometimes when I'm stumped. Sometimes just hitting the keys without writing a thing.

Anonymous said...

My dreams are so strange, I can't even imagine producing a story from them, but I'm sure they are there. The darkness within them are so unsettling, I just can't see spending hours perfecting a story containing such evil. Maybe one day I'll find the courage to delve within them.

MysteryKnitter said...

They just come. Ideas, that is. All of sudden a character starts to speak, or then I see things. I see like a film in my head. Sometimes it is with a voice, sometimes it is silent.

Cher Green said...

True. And, the more you pay them attention, the more they will tell you. :)

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