Wednesday, November 2, 2011
4 Ways To Get The Ideas Flowing
As writers we are often bombarded by ideas for books. Sometimes we have so many shiny WIP ideas we can't get a handle on the book we're writing. And that's great. But sometimes there aren't that many ideas. Sometimes there are NO ideas.
Sometimes it's writer's block. Sometimes there are family or emotional issues that keep you from coming up with anything. And sometimes you're just stuck.
Unfortunately, we can't wait around for inspiration. This doesn't just apply to writing, this applies to coming up with ideas, plotting, creating characters, all that jazz. Sometimes we have the luxury to wait around for another idea, but if you're a professional writer, people may be waiting for your next book. You may be under contract. The world won't wait for you to come up with an idea.
Here's a short list on ways to inspire inspiration. 4 easy ways to kick your butt in gear.
1) Compile a list of the things you want to write. Go through your favorite books and write a list of everything you've always WANTED to write. Have you toyed with the idea of a western romance? Have you had a character lingering in the back of your mind you wanted to try writing? Write it down. Once you have a list, try and match some together. Pair the sci-fi with Chinese culture and add an OCD main character whose petrified of space ships. How many aspects can you weave together? Can you create a story from that?
2) Write from prompts. Tried and true, but it works. You can find prompt generators online, or even just ask the people around you for objects, situations, and locations for story ideas. Go to three separate people, ask one for a location, as one for a profession, ask the last for an object. Taking those three ideas, can you weave a story out of that? For a different approach, you can take word prompts and write short blurbs to timed sessions. Let the words unravel without planning anything out. If the ideas come, run with it.
3) People Watch. This is my favorite, and the easiest. It's best done in public with strangers. Pick someone from the crowd and watch them. Study their clothes, their behavior, the way they talk or stand or walk. Then create a story for them. Create a name, create their family, create a backstory. Figure out why they're there, and be creative. Your character profiles can be mundane, or fantastical. That woman may be a spy from a British Academy waiting on orders from the US division. That man could be meeting with his wife to tell her the results of the chemo treatments. Create them as characters in your mind and build your story from there.
4) Bounce ideas. This one's difficult for me, but every time I do it, I'm always amazed and delighted at the results. Talking to other people, especially writers or heavy readers, is a great way to generate ideas. Even if the other person doesn't give you ideas, sometimes they ask questions that can get you thinking, and lead you to your own epiphany. This is definitely the most fun, as it works wonderfully. Whenever I'm stuck, just a few hours with my beta and there's nothing we can't solve.