Monday, January 9, 2017

Idea Generation

Where do I get my ideas from?  Apparently writers get asked this question often.  No one has asked me yet, so I'm going to just be brazen and come right out with it:  I read--a lot.

I have found that I get a lot of ideas and help with difficult plot problems simply by researching stories.  The more you read and learn about a time period or a culture, the more ideas you get.  For instance, a line from a poem gave me the idea for my short story, "Strands of Grass."  Reading about the Greek custom of eating mezedes (snacks eaten while drinking ouzo), gave me the idea and setting for a short story called, "Stavros."

I have gotten ideas by reading short stories I have already written, because I see things that the characters in such a story might do in the future.  I find that I like to write series of short stories featuring the same characters--not necessarily in a seamless story arc.  A lot of these are stand-alone stories.  I sometimes don't want to stop writing about certain characters just because their first story ended.

Some stories come to me when I ask myself a question.  For instance, I was in awe of the truly impressive amount of gold that Smaug had collected in the movie, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  It was every fan's ultimate wild fantasy of how much gold a dragon could collect.  The dragon could have swum in it, he had so much gold.  And then I asked myself, "What would be a logical reason for dragons to hoard gold?"  So I came up with a reason.  My reason also came to me because of an awesomely simple and brilliant therapeutic item made for children who have autism, but the main impetus for the idea was the question.

Reading about medicine gives me ideas for stories.  I had the greatest fun reading about the actual health problems of giants, and my giant, Kiernan's, health problems in "The Witch of Braighe" figured prominently in the story I wrote about him.  He and his friend, a witch named Triona, are other characters whom I want to write more about.

Do I ever feel like I've run out of ideas, that I can't possibly come up with new ones?  Yes.  But then some idea surprises me, and I realize that, no, thank goodness, the well hasn't run dry and never will, as long as I continue to have an inquisitive mind.

So where do you get your ideas from?

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