Saturday, April 09, 2011

I is for Ideas and where they come from

Where do story ideas come from? Our own lives provide a rich trove of material, whether from our own experiences or from our observations. We read the newspaper, watch TV, learn about other people's troubles and maybe get an we jot a few notes on our computer for future reference, and then come back to it every now and then. I have a file named ideas.doc with random one-liners that may come in handy some day. They might be possible story titles, character names, "what if" scenarious, snippets of dialog I've overheard somewhere. The idea isn't necessarily to use them all--I don't--but to not forget them and to have a grab bag to dip into.

It's said that Tom Clancy's idea for The Hunt for Red October came from a small news article about a missing Soviet submarine. One day in the early 1980s I heard an NPR report about Cambodian refugees coming to America. That led to an association with some of the refugees and to my eventually incorporating the experience into two novels. At work years ago I overheard two women talking about shaving their legs. One woman said, "If I had legs like yours, I'd get a guy to shave them for me." I scribbled a note right away, and it patiently sits in my idea file, waiting for the right time to use it.

So ideas can come from anywhere. Use them only as starting points, though. Never feel like you have to stick with "what really happened." That only matters for non-fiction.


Linda - Nickers and Ink said...

Thought-provoking post on the seeds of stories.

Linda Ann

I stopped by via the A to Z Challenge for April, and I invite you to visit my blogs at:

NICKERS AND INK – poetry, humor, inspiration and more

PRACTICALLY AT HOME – inspiration, humor and how-tos for family, home and garden, and more

THE MANE POINT – a haven for horse lovers

MEME EXPRESS – daily blogging prompts for the A to Z Challenge and more

N. R. Williams said...

I like how you save them and refer to your word doc as an idea grab bag. Now I wish we could create little art images to store different programs in, your would fit nicely into a draw string bag.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

Nate Wilson said...

And not even all non-fiction sticks to the facts...

I tack my blog ideas to bulletin board in my office, store my story ideas in a Word doc, and have all my ideas for my current WIP in a pile of post-its. I don't have the slightest idea where the vast majority of those ideas came from. My mind is a strange place.

Gail M Baugniet said...

Lately, I've been getting many ideas from the daily newspaper. My a to z posts are already written so I'm saving the ideas for future posts.

Sig Wynne-Evans said...

I find I am struggling for ideas for my blog. While it is pretty well point towards beading, I do not limit myself to that. I am really all over the place.

Even in my artwork, I struggle for ideas too. Sometimes it is best, not to struggle, and keep an open brain cell or 2!