When I speak to students about being an author, one of their questions is, "Where do you get ideas for your stories?"
While writing my first book, I came across an article that said first time writers often write an autobiography or biography. Indeed, this was true for me as well. as my first book was based on real life events. It was a story I knew well, with characters I did not need to create. I just had to find my way to putting the story on the page.
But let's face it, I am no Ben Franklin. I have not invented many important things or saved many people. And while my mom and I may think my life is interesting, I know the rest of the world could probably care less. So one short book was enough to give me some confidence in the book writing process.
Non-fiction is real, but fiction is fun. So how do I come up with the ideas for my works of fiction?
Stories do not come to me all at once, instead I get inspiration for scenes from music, tv shows, feelings, quotes, etc. I write down something that moves me and see if I can work that into my story. In Between the Bleeding Willows (my latest YA Paranormal book), I really wanted a scene where a girl woke up in a strange place after being unconscious. I wanted a strong man, standing with arms folded in the room when she woke up. He would be annoyed with her, for entering and complicating his life. And while she did not choose to enter his life, she now is very much a part of it and trying to understand her role.
Later in the story I have the girl attend a martial arts class and meet a young and charismatic guy. I intended on him just being a friend and only in the story for a brief time. But as the dialog unfolded between him and my main character, I fell in love with him and couldn't let him go. In fact, he has a big role in book 2 of my Demon Hunters series.
My ideas come from many different places but are usually just snippets that I piece together to build the story.
When the well runs dry, here are my go to tips and tricks:
- Ask someone else for an idea (my daughter suggested I write about demons, and so I did, Between the Bleeding Willows is a story of demons and demon hunters)
- Take a walk (walking has been proven to spark creativity)
- Go some place new (new restaurant, new town, new outing) I went to a quiet restaurant with a journal in hand and told the waitress I'd be awhile and to keep the Diet Cokes coming. I managed to frame out all of my 2nd book and she was grateful for the generous tip. It was nice to be away from the distractions of home.
- Get into someone else's mind. Think about how the CEO of your company or your child might view and react to a situation.
- Brainstorm and write anything and everything that comes to mind - no filter. I catch myself wanting to write something and stopping myself and saying "you might lose the YA genre if you add that scene or say that". And it distracts me from my train of thought. Now I know better...I just add it in and will think on it later when I re-read it or when my editor mentions it. First ideas need to be free of judgement or inhibitions. Julia Cameron has a great book called The Artist's Way and in it is valuable advice on sparking creativity. One of the main exercises she encourages is Morning Pages.
"There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They aren’t even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow." - Chris Winfield, Entrepreneur and Morning Pages believer (for more insight on how Morning Pages helped Chris visit: http://www.chriswinfield.com/morning-pages/ )
Anyone interested in trying Morning Pages with me for 1 month??? We can share our experience once it's done :>