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:~: Tuesday, March 13, 2007 :~:

Where Ideas Come From

This is probably the number one thing writers get asked about, and for me at least, it's the hardest one to answer. Ideas can come from anywhere--a line in a TV show or song, something someone says to you in conversation, dreams, or even other books. Most of the time, though, I find the ideas are just there. They don't come from anywhere specific. (I'd say the characters whisper them in my ear, but to anyone who isn't a writer, telling them that is going to make me sound like a nut case :grin: )

A recent idea from a fortune cookie. The fortune said "someone is watching you from afar". A little stalker-ish and once I was finished being creeped out :grin: I started thinking about how I could incoporate that into a story.

When I took the kids to visit my parents on Sunday, my mom asked me why I don't use some of the crazy things the kids have done in one of my books. I told her I don't use them often since I don't usually write children in my books, but I do keep a file. There are a few things my middle son has done that I just have to use. A couple of examples--he glued the dog's collar to her fur a while back because he thought it irritated her when it spun around her neck, and he clogged the toilet one time when he was trying to hide a pair of socks in the bowl. These two things, I've used. I just couldn't resist.

Other than that, I don't usually use real life experiences in my writing. Exciting things generally don't happen around here, so I have to rely on my imagination.

Where do you get your ideas? Do you incorporate real life events into your writing?

4Comments:

Blogger Joan Swan said...

Elisa,

Great topic. I absolutely use a lot of daily life in my writing--from character to plot. Of course it's always just pieces of things here and there added for reality.

For example, I have a wierd habit of being irritated at things that repeat--the tapping of a pencil, popping of gum, a kid kicking a chair. (My own kids swear I'm going to make them twitch because I won't let them fidget.) So, I gave my heroine a similar, although not quite so extensive, problem and a hero who likes to tap fingers when he's thinking.

Plot--I get a lot of ideas from magazine articles, trial coverage, newspapers.

But, like you, Elisa, most of my ideas come from somewhere deeper inside and they don't usually start big. They start with a character or a problem or a grand plot that I have to cast appropriately.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Paty Jager said...

My ideas for stories come from newspapers, researching for one book and getting the idea for another. Or visiting historic places or reading about them.

Of course I write historical so that helps. :)

As for using everyday things that happen - I do talk to people and use some of their experiences. My on contemporary, I did include the pulling of a calf it happened to my husband and I, and my paranormal I used watching the 4th of July fireworks to write about a spirit disintegrating.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Great topic, Elisa. I'm not sure, either. I get snippets of plot ideas from watching the news or reading the paper (which I do rarely) or watching movies or TV now and then, but most of my stories develop from the characters. Once I know them, I know what issues they're facing. The books I've had trouble writing are the ones where I have a plot and try to work the characters into it. Generally, I have to go the other way to get it all to work.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Actually, regarding the whole characters whispering in your ear thing, Marjorie Taylor at the University of Oregon has studied exactly that. She likens it to similar behavior among children with their imaginary companions. http://www.uoregon.edu/~mtaylor/ic/AuthorsProject.html

My ideas often come as a random line (I have a Blurb file in Word) or scene. A few from dreams, overheard snippets of dialogue. But I think you're right in saying that a lot of it comes from within rather than without.

10:07 AM  

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