Saturday, 11 June 2011

Ideas R Us

Writers often get asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" I wish it were as easy as going to an Idea Store and picking out ripe ones, like mangos. 

Unfortunately, getting a fresh idea for a plot can be a challenge. How writers get their ideas is different for everyone. Some might be inspired through music or a controversial topic. Ray Bradbury, the renowned science fiction writer, made up the title first and then turned each into a novel, i.e. The Lake, The Jar, The Skeleton. Some might play the 'what if' game. "What if a degenerated man falls madly in love with a woman he's not worthy of?" Charles Dickens may have asked this question when he wrote A Tale of Two Cities.

If you think about it, everybody is full of stories-- from funny to tragic -- stories from their childhood, events they were directly involved in or heard about second hand. Everyone you meet is a walking story. So talk to your friends, family or coworkers. They might be a rich source of material.

If you're short on ideas for a novel, be observant to the life happening around you, and record your perceptions, feelings and interpretations. Read the newspaper. It's true what they say: Truth is stranger than fiction. I got a couple of great ideas from newspapers that I used in two of my novels. I read about a groom getting arrested at the altar, so I opened my first novel, Buried Secrets, using that idea. I read another article about orchid smuggling, and that became the cornerstone of my plot in Saving Haley.

Where do you get your ideas? Do you use the same process every time, or change it up? Can you pinpoint the exact moment you got your story spark? 

1 comment:

  1. News stories and magazines give me starting points. Then I play a healthy dose of the "What if...?" game. For THE BLUE VIRGIN: I've always wanted to live in England for a while, so my protagonist, Nora, does instead. The germ of that mystery came whilst listening to the soundtrack of Notting Hill and Elvis Costello singing the song "She." The lyrics suggested a plot line and I took it and ran with it~