Category Archives: Idea Generation

Cleaning Leads to Writing Inspiration

By Ruth Granger-Wellens

At the beginning of my Corona virus isolation, since I had so many hours of unscheduled time, I decided to tackle some huge cleaning projects that I had put off for, well, years.  When we moved 16 years ago, during a week long spring break, I packed all my nonessential “stuff” into boxes.  My “stuff” eventually was cornered, literally, in the basement, and I hadn’t touched it in, again, years. With all the time I had ahead of me, I decided to clear out the corner by going through boxes to see what I had.

Wow!  I am a saver, I will admit, but some of the items I saved were a puzzlement even to me. Letter and cards, some from high school friends, but more from college buddies became inspiration to write about occasions from long ago. I could put twists on some of the letters I had saved – maybe a story about unrequited love? Why was that card never answered?  What happened? Why did I save some of my correspondence in a special box with a ribbon around it?

I did read everything before I threw out the majority of it, but not before going through many emotions.  Of course, if I didn’t remember the particular event, fiction writing would come in handy.

Then the pictures were discovered.  So many pictures of friends, family, and even a few strangers.  I did hang onto some of them, but others I tried to look at through my son’s eyes and wondered what he would think when the time came, and he needed to go through my things.  I became a new me in part and actually threw out some pictures.  But others, of people wearing vintage clothing, hats, with solid, serious stances, became inspiration for writing.  Who is that stranger in the picture? Remember the dance performances and the drama surrounding them in college?  What was the occasion for this picture?  How did the subjects feel about the picture being taken?  Were they standing next to people they enjoyed or not? The pictures provide ideas for both fiction and nonfiction.

Then came the preciously saved mementos. I found a large red button that had made me an official member of the Beatles Fan Club.  Upon seeing it, I felt a memoir coming on.  So many memories and feelings to capture in writing.     

This deep cleaning created a win-win situation for me.  I not only came away with some inspiring ideas for future writing, but that corner in my basement looks great!

Writers Are Readers

By Terry C. Misfeldt

Writers have a tendency to also be avid readers. Yes, folks, writers are readers!

We read to explore new worlds without leaving the comfort of our favorite chair. We can cross the plains of America in a covered wagon with a cup of coffee and a doughnut in our hands. We can be enthralled in a steamy romance while lying on a beach blanket.

Why do we read? We get ideas for writing from reading what others have written. We can study character development. We can create exotic worlds from seeing how other authors develop their fantasy planets. We consider sentence length, grammar, punctuation, and style from the words in those published works.

Sure, we read for entertainment or knowledge and sometimes just for something to do. We find authors we love and crave their next book. For me those are writers like Kevin J. Anderson, Brian Herbert, James Lee Burke, and Jeff Shaara…each of whom writes for a different audience. Their work can be inspiring, and writers need to be inspired!

As writers, we also read to learn how other writers grab your attention and keep it as they develop a plot through various crises to a climax. Part of why we read involves a never-ending search for new authors whose work we will either love or despise. Those we dislike usually have but a chapter or two before they lose us.

And no writer wants to lose their readers…for whatever reason! So we read.

How I Started Writing – from a Newbie

By Laura E. Aronis

I didn’t think I could write! Me? I couldn’t imagine having enough imagination for something as enormous as a whole book! Characters? Plots? Climax? Resolution? No way! I was content to read other amazing works of fiction, often rereading them over and over again, (which I didn’t realize was setting me up for being a writer.) 

I might have an idea come to me on occasion, or I might daydream about some scenario taking place around me, but I NEVER thought of putting pen to paper and writing it out! That would just be too embarrassing! No one would want to read something that came out of my head, that’s just silly! Until one day… The day that the idea was just too good, the scenario too exciting and the characters too interesting for me to keep them inside and risk them leaving me as I slowly thought of new adventures and stories. 

I didn’t know how to begin, so I started with something that looked a bit like this:

Jack: Let’s go up the hill.

Jill: I do need a pail of water.

Narrator: Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. 

Jill: Jack! There’s a boat– (Wait, that’s a different story) Watch out!

Narrator: Jack sees a large boulder coming straight at him and tries to run but…

Jack: Ahhhh!

Narrator: Jack yells as he falls down the hill. There’s silence as his crown (head) breaks.

Jill: (gasps)

Narrator: And that’s the end of Jack. But wait! What’s this? Jill is tumbling after!

The End

Obviously, I knew that wasn’t the way to do it, but I had to start somewhere. I took what I had written and started over, thinking about how other writers had done it and began:

Jack was bored. Nothing interesting ever happened in Kilmersdon, the town where he and his wife, Jill lived. He watched his wife knitting tiny little socks and could take it no longer. “Let’s go up the hill,” he said. Jill finished counting the stitches in the row she was working on and smiled at her husband.

“I do need a pail of water,” she said. Jack took Jill’s hand and they walked out the door. Jill grabbed the wooden bucket that always sat just inside the door of their thatched stone cottage. They walked side by side down the lane that led to the small school, as that’s where the well was located.

They enjoyed the late afternoon sunshine and each other’s company as Jack chased Jill along the old stone wall and up the steep hill that the neighborhood children had to climb every day. 

Suddenly Jack slipped on some loose stones on the path and tried to catch himself by grabbing the top of the wall, but the large stone he managed to grab was loose and came off in his hand. It landed on top of his head, crushing his skull.

“Ahhh,” he said as he started to roll down the hill, much to Jill’s horror. As she tried to run after him, her foot got caught in her skirts and she came tumbling down the hill after her husband. 

The End

So, it doesn’t matter how you start; if you have an idea, just start. You may end up with a morbid nursery rhyme that parents will sing to their babies long after everyone involved is dead and gone.

Writing Perspective – Day 30 of 31

By Valerie Routhieaux

Day 30 – Brainstorming

In a book called Book in a Month, I found another gem.

Brainstorming. I know this is a duh topic. When it comes to writing, you need to brainstorm. Everything in your story earns a gold star for this one.

You brainstorm your topic, characters, scenes, turning points, cliffhangers, setting, conflict, triumphs, tragedies. Nothing is left to chance when it comes to your story.

You brainstorm your characters – how many, who are they, where do they live, what are their occupations.

With that, you get your setting. What is the theme of your story, what roles do your characters play in the story? How will they get from point A to Z?

As you brainstorm your story, you put flesh and bones on your story. You get to know everything about your characters, you research where they live if you don’t already know. You research their backgrounds unless you’re intimately aware of that background.

If you’re reading a book, I guarantee the author brainstormed to get it where you can’t put the book down until you read the last page.

If you’re writing a blog, you brainstormed to determine a topic for the post. When you get near the end of your project, you start brainstorming the resolution of the story. How does it all fit together? What did your characters learn along the way? How did they grow?

There’s a lot to writing a novel, a blog, even a letter to a friend. It all takes thought and brainstorming.

Tomorrow’s Perspective: Marketing