Monday, February 28, 2011

Where do you get your ideas?

A question most writers are faced with at some point in their career is, “Where do you get your ideas?”

Some of the answers for this question have been: “From life.”, “From a dream.”, “From my idea box.”, “Out of my head,” the answers keep on going.

I’m not sure why this question is asked so often, but it is. There are even books out there full of writing prompts. Most writing how-to books include a section on coming up with ideas. Try a Google search and you shall discover multiple links to sites telling how to find ideas.
I’m not saying it’s always easy to come up with an idea, but the most honest answer I can think of for this question is, “From my imagination.” It starts as a seed, and it grows into a massive oak or in some cases, it withers and dies.

The seed is the starting point. My seeds come from life, dreams, prompts, images, and daydreams. I’m sure there are more sources, but there’s a few. After the seed is planted, the rest is done with sprinkles of imagination.

For instance, my short story, “Friends Forever,” began with a seed. That seed came from the movie, “The Ring.” The seed was the ‘Well’. In fact, the story began as “The Forbidden Well”, but quickly became something more with a few dashes of imagination. The seed was allowed to germinate over a few days' time. When I sat down to write, I really had no conscious idea of what the story was going to be about. As I began, an image of a little girl flying a kite flashed before me and that’s where I began the story. Everything else just grew from “a well” and “a little girl with a kite.”

So, where do you get your ideas?


Najela said...

I get my ideas from other books, especially books that I hate. I always wonder what I can do to make it something I would read. Most of my stories are mash-ups of good things I liked from other stories. Or I take a common trope and see how I can subvert it. It's fun to do.

I need to read that story now that I see your process. It's interesting to see stories come together.

Lynn Andrade said...

My ideas stem from the things you listed and more. Misheard or over heard conversations, tricks of the light, even the bolt of inspiration. Completely random. Once it hits, though, your seed analogy is spot on. You have to nurture that baby. :D

Anonymous said...

Najela, Thanks for commenting. Hope things are going well with your writing. Other books are a good source for ideas.

Lynn, Thanks for commenting. Yes randomness runs through me also.

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Ideas sometimes come from connecting two events or thoughts, creating a 'what if' question.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Cher. I get ideas from books, TV, while riding in the car, my family gives me ideas, my idea jar, etc, etc. My son throws a LOT of 'What if' questions or scenerios at me.

Anonymous said...

Terry, Thanks for commenting.

Susanne, so you have an idea jar. I've played around with this concept, but when I pull one out it doesn't usually spark anything. But if I write it down and immediately brainstorm on it, I usually get results.

Lola Sharp said...

I always answer that question with: where DON'T I get ideas.

Have a lovely weekend,

Anonymous said...

Lola, Good answer. Have a great weekend.

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