Friday, September 10, 2010

Where Do Your Ideas Come From?

People often ask where I get my ideas. Some ask with interest; a few ask with a sense of alarm, as if they can't get over the idea of a church-going choir director dreaming up headless corpses and subtle poisons.
Most writers I know could answer with a question of their own: How do I get them to stop? Every day at least one idea floats through my head that might make a decent book. The problem is choosing one that I like well enough to flesh out the details and finish. In other words, the idea is the easy part.
An idea for an Arthur-and-Guinevere sleuthing team struck my fancy a while back, but I couldn't get interested enough to actually write it. I have several other started mysteries that got shoved onto the back burner. An abandoned idea might be due to other demands on my time (like edits), a plot knot that won't dissolve, or simple boredom: I don't like the story enough to finish it. I call these files "somedays", as in some day I might go back to them. (James Michener didn't write IBERIA for years after he took all the notes and outlined it. I'm no Michener, but still.)
If you are a storyteller, stories grow in your head of their own volition. The work part is writing a story down, toiling over it until it is no longer just a good idea, but a story that others can understand and enjoy.
So my answer to "Where do your ideas come from?" is that my brain is like a tree full of story blossoms. I have to pick the ones that seem promising and then work on them until they become fruit.

6 comments:

Maryann Miller said...

Enjoyed the post. Had to laugh when you mentioned people sometimes look at you in alarm because of your fascination with killing. I think sometimes people don't realize that is part of our creative side and not the real us. LOL

Chris Redding said...

I have a sweatshirt that says
Be careful or you will end up in one of my novels.
I have an addendum to that.
Don't piss me off or you will die a horrible death in one of my novels.
cmr

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I'm with you, Peg, I have too many ideas.

And Chris, people I know frequently end up in my books, they just don't recognize themselves, which is a good thing.

Marilyn

LauraR said...

Marilyn, I think people with million ideas floating around have a much better chance of coming up with something successful than people with one great Idea they are obsessed with and can't let go until it's opportunity comes. Look at Leonardo Da Vinci! That guy had a million ideas and many of thems are still being analyzed and coming to fruition.

Jessica Hall said...

I agree with all of you. Though I'm not an adult yet, I am very creative and ideas pop into my head even for the stupid tv shows like Adventure Time or whatnot. I haven't actually come up with a good book for myself yet, but I write Fan Fiction. One more question: how do I expand on my characters personalities?

Cheryl Tardif said...

Jessica, to expand my characters' personalities, I ask myself these things:

1. What is my character's back story? Who are they? What do they do? Where do they come from? What makes them who they are?

2. What are my character's personality traits? I always list the good and bad.

3. What are my character's flaws and challenges? This is what really makes my characters unique and stand out.

I hope this helps. :-)

Cheryl Kaye Tardif