Ideas and Their Origins
The kiss of inspiration snuck up one evening and kissed you quite unexpectedly. From that moment an idea rattled around your brain like a pea in a can. That idea will constantly niggle you like a child tugging on your trousers. The idea must have expression - that is just how it is.
· The idea is growing. It will convince you that it is definitely original and no one has ever thought of such an amazing idea before. In fact this idea will slowly consume you and compel you to tell everyone about it.
· Great – write it down. An idea is great; however, it is just an asteroid floating around space until gravity captures it and brings it into reality. It then becomes the shooting star!
· Buy yourself a writing journal and keep a scrapbook. Capture everything related to this idea and allow the idea to germinate and grow.
· Before we go any further – does this idea give you a sense of passion? Does it make you want to spend hours developing and refining? Does the thought of spending two hours a day making this idea reality appeal?
· IDEAS-> MASS OF IDEAS-> FILTER-> FINAL IDEA-> BACKGROUND-> CHARACTERS-> THEME-> LOCATION-> STORY-> ERA-> GENRE-> FULL CONCEPT-> WORKING TITLE-> PREPARE TO BEGIN.
The Source of Inspiration
The Art of Noticing
Have you ever considered what you notice and why you notice it?
We all have very different ways of filtering the world around us and each of us approach situations with completely different systems of identification. Take for example a party environment. One person will notice conversations, another will notice body language and maybe another will notice aromas or outfits.
As an interesting exercise write down three things that you notice in any given situation. Once you have listed three usual/obvious items, I suggest you search for three less obvious traits/details. In addition, attempt to notice using different senses. That way you open up your mind to extended noticing.
With what you have noticed consider how you witness the world around you.
Are you primarily visual, auditory or do you notice smells?
Try sharing this idea with a friend and compare what you notice. Is it the same?
What can you learn from how other people notice the world? How can you apply this learning to your writing? How could you enable an insight into a character through the ways in which they notice?
In a world filled by stories, where do we actually originate inspiration?
Some questions you may wish to consider once you have established what you wish to write:
Why do we want to write it? One needs a ‘why’ for motivation. Is the ‘why’ to write your life story for future generations? Is it a burning desire to put on paper a story that has been floating about your mind for years?
Will writing this story provide us with pure enjoyment or enable us to experience life from a different perspective?
How will you reward yourself once you have written this story? Rewarding yourself for completion is something paramount. I ask my students to list a reward, it is usually the following: a spa day, a new handbag, pretty new shoes, track days, adventure day out or a dinner at a nice restaurant. The point of having a reward is to celebrate your success. That way you train yourself to complete what you start.
Back to the story: The truth is that stories are everywhere; it is just a case of noticing them. Some of the more obvious examples come from newspapers, magazines, television, history, myths, fairy tales and our own lives.
With all this in mind, have a look at the below checklist to make sure you have clarity:
· What is it that you wish to write?
· What is the idea?
· What is its theme?
· Why must you share this with the world?
· Who would be interested?
· What are the key components of the idea?
· What can they be linked to?
· What is your intended outcome? – A novel, a short story or an epic?
· What would you like to gain from the journey of writing this?
· What are the emotions involved?
· What research is involved?
· What locations do you need to visit?
· Who could you talk to about the idea?
· Who will give you genuine feedback?
· What is the location? What is the era/timeframe?
· Who are your characters and why do they appeal?
· What is the story really about?
· Why is it that we wish to write the story?
· Who will it appeal to?
· Is it real?
· If it is fiction, does something similar already exist?
· What genre?
· Whose point of view?
· How can I make this unique?
· What can I bring to this that is purely mine?
· What is my reward?
Once we have an idea or a theme – how do we expand and evolve our ideas?
Some of the obvious examples are as follows:
· Brain storms with cards. Write on cards and arrange them into a story.
· Mind map. Draw a diagram and have arrows and boxes leading in all directions.
· Cutting construction. Make cuttings from magazines and use these as prompts.
· Random word prompt. Take a walk, listen out to conversations and use a word that jumps out at you to be your prompt.
· Random theme prompt. It could be love, travel, sport – any theme can prompt you.
· Object story generation. Take two random objects and write a story that links them.
· Open random book/dictionary on a page. Find a theme there.
· Internet idea generator: http://www.seventhsanctum.com/generate.php?Genname=quickstory
Problem Solving as a Story Generator
One of my favourite ways to initiate a story is simply the action of solving a problem. Take for example the following:
· Overhearing a conversation that affects a friend. How do you let them know?
· The craving for a bacon sandwich but having no bacon in the fridge.
· Having to shop for a gift for someone who has everything.
· The need for a cup of sugar when you have moved into a new flat.
· The response to a power cut.
· A problem often initiates a journey. Take for example taking a pregnant friend to hospital.
· Discovering someone jammed in a window.
· Being locked out of your house.
· Being stuck in a lift.
A Random Object as a Story Generator
If in doubt, find a random object and make a story for the object.
Objects often have stories of their own. Who created the object? How did the object come into the possession of the present owner? What is special about the object? By having something real in front of you it becomes easier to stimulate the mind. The Hare With The Amber Eyes is a novel that traces a family’s history based on rare objects that were collected by the family.
Once we begin brainstorming, we soon realise that there is a potential story explosion. If we are not careful we can be consumed by creative chaos. With this in mind, after expanding our creative potential, we now need to structure and narrow down all the ideas. There are a number of techniques for this.
· Lists common themes.
· Colour coding/circling.
· The arrangement of cards which lists the details to generate the structure of the story.
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A Short Course in Creative Writing
by Ms Ruby Allure
by Ms Ruby Allure