Thursday, August 2, 2018

Where Do You Get Your Ideas? By Ann Haywood Leal


A writing idea sometimes shows itself to me like a sliver of light under a door at the end of a long hallway.  I might mull it over for a while and see if it grows.  But sometimes a new idea hits me hard, bulldozing me to the ground, and I know I have to write about it.  Those are usually the types of ideas that hang around, sticking to me, until I finally build a story around it.
 
I don't believe that writing ideas are as elusive as they try to appear.  Louis L'Amour once said, "Ideas are everywhere.  There are ideas enough in any daily newspaper to keep a man writing for years.  Ideas are all about us, in the people we meet, the way we live, the way we travel, and how we think about things."

One thing that is important for me is to keep myself open to new ideas -not just at the brewing, beginning stages of a story or book, but throughout my writing.  This is what rounds out my characters as I go, and what fills up my story, as a whole.

A lot of that is paying attention to the small nuances of life.  I love to notice little quirks in strangers, and put them into my story.  How do I know if they're worthy of the story?  They hang around in my head for a good while.  It's that phrase that you can't stop thinking about.  That phrase might become a line for one of your characters, or even a first line for your story.  You might hear someone say something in a crowded grocery store, in line at a restroom, or waiting for a table at a restaurant.  Maybe it makes you wonder, or smile, or cringe, and you have to write it down.  Then definitely do go write it down.

Each year as August begins, I can almost start to taste a new school year.  Schools are idea mines, because there are so many universal feelings with which readers of all ages will connect.  So as the air begins to cool down and the Fall air hovers in the distance, sit back and sniff out some good ideas.  

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