Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chasing the Elusive Idea

I've been to a lot of author talks and regardless of the audience, the inevitable question always comes up: Where do you get your ideas from?

Even if the author is gracious enough to avoid the eye roll, I'm not. (Guess I'll need to work on that before I get published!)

The question doesn't annoy me just because everybody asks it. The truth is, most writers can't pinpoint a specific time or place where an idea comes from. At least I can't. Every book tends to come from a different spark. There isn't some magic box under the bed that writers pull ideas from. (If you have one, please share. I'm willing to split royalties.)

As I worked on edits for a book that I'm not ready to give up on yet, a new idea came to me, an idea that would add depth to the character and offer him an impossible choice. I have no clue where the idea came from. Unfortunately, I also have no clue as to how I'm going to incorporate this brilliant plot point. So I turn it over in my head and pray to whatever deity impressed the idea on me in the first place, to follow up with the second half of the equation because the drivel I've been typing out just isn't cutting it.

I guess that's the persistence part of this writing journey. Even if it's drivel, I keep typing, keep writing until it makes sense. At this point, I'm still willing to believe that if I keep at it, I'll figure it out. Eventually.


Kristan Hoffman said...

I read this recently, but I can't remember where:

"Writers don't have ideas; ideas have writers."

Anne Gallagher said...

Love that comment above.

I know exactly how you feel. I've been sitting on a wip for the last month trying to figure out a plot point. And it wouldn't come to me. And then BAM, yesterday (believe it or not) it smacked me right between the eyes. I have no idea where it came from. But I'm lucky to have it, because now I can finally finish the story.

Unknown said...

I'm the opposite. I can tell you were all my ideas comes from. At least the big ones. Sometimes I have no idea where they come from. I'll be running and wham the idea hits. My brain truly does work in mysterious ways. :D

Sherrie Petersen said...

Kristan: Omigosh, love that quote!

Anne: I LOVE when that happens. Yay!

Stina: It's not just your brain that's mysterious :) Love that sexy new photo!

Laura Pauling said...

I love it when it happens! Some ideas i can pinpoint the time and place. Sometimes an image or place but often it comes out of research or what I love to read. I'm sure that is asked a lot!

Good luck on this rewrite!

Dianne K. Salerni said...

And it's amazing, isn't it, when new ideas emerge for old stories -- things you never thought of before, but which add dimension and substance to the story. The truth is, the ideas for our stories emerge bit by bit, piece by piece. I think it would be a rare story that arrived in its entirety, like Athena being born out of the head of ... who was it? Zeus?

Krispy said...

Kristan's quote is great! I totally feel you on that question. While it's interesting in theory to find out where people get their ideas, there's no easy answer! I'm like you - I don't always know where ideas come from, and sometimes they're from a bunch of things coming together all at once, inexplicably. So basically, if I'm ever asked that question, I have a really boring, vague answer. Haha.

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