Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Getting Ideas

I have roughly two weeks before my grammar books arrive, therefore I've decided to start thinking about my second book. Problem is - I have no idea what it should be about!

If I wait for inspiration to strike it may never be written, so I bought a notepad from Paperchase today (and a ton of differently coloured pens...yay!) and started to make notes. I know I have some ideas bubbling under the surface, I just need to start digging. I've begun by listing the things I've gone through and am familiar with (write what you know) and the themes and issues that I'm interested in (write what you want to know).

The plan is that, once I've come up with a decent list of themes to play with, I'll pick a few and then ask myself - what if? Perhaps I'll be able to link different themes through this question, or ideas will just form from these thoughts alone. Then I'll do some freewriting on each.

Hopefully out of the freewriting some characters, plots and premises will emerge. I'd like to start with short stories to get a feel for the story before committing to an entire novel on one idea.

This may come across as a little cold and calculated for such a creative process, and perhaps it is - but I'm just hoping that it will give my inspiration a little shove in the right direction! And who knows, once I start concentrating my thoughts on book two the ideas might start popping into my head on their own, so I'm making sure to keep my ideas pad with me at all times. I'm willing to write anything and everything down, even if it seems ridiculous...

How do you come up with ideas? Do they just come to you, fully formed, or do you have a process? Do you mainly get your inspiration from themes or characters?


HelenMWalters said...

A lot of my ideas come in dreams - or when I'm half awake/half asleep. This is clearly my most creative time :) But sometimes ideas just come to me out of the blue. Sorry, that's not very helpful is it?

Yvonne said...

I love that time too Helen and try to stay there as long as possible, which is why I get most of my ideas at lie-in weekends!

tobytheteacher said...

It's a real mixture for me. I worked on a treatment once that was historical, so a lot of the characters came out of the heavy amount of research I'd done.

On the other hand, the script I'm working on at the moment is less based in a 'actual real world reality' (if that makes any sense).

In this case, the script arrived by way of it's main character. He popped into my head. The other characters then came into life as reactions to him. To reflect or contrast him.

I'm currently trying to pin each character down to the central theme, so they all serve to express that theme. Whilst at the same time, and this is what is currently giving me a headache, making the characters make sense in their own right - i.e. do I believe they would actually do those things?

Through that process each character changes and those changes effect the other characters; including the main character.

For example, he began as the oldest character in the story - but after working on the antagonist, it became clear it would be more interesting for the antagonist to be the oldest and for the main character to be younger.

- Still this method is pretty new to me. It'll probably all change again.

Yvonne said...

Toby, that sounds very similar to how I planned my stories, and it suited my style very well. But my characters do tend to get a mind of their own when I start writing, even if I've planned them out to a T. As Maggie O'Farrell says: 'Get excited when a character turns to you and says, "Actually, I'm not going to do that, I'm going to do this!"' (Thanks Emerging Writer for the quote!)

Yvonne said...

OOOH just came up with an idea that just keeps developing by the minute - it's one I'm really excited about. A great start!

Jenny Beattie said...

Your last comment sounds like you've hit on something. My second book is a story that's a direct experience of something I had (moving to Thailand) but of course that doesn't give me the plot. All the ideas being discussed here are how I arrive at that.

Jen said...

Sounds as if you've totally hit on something, judging by your twitterings... it's brilliant when something catches your imagination and starts to spark.

I freewrite to find ideas - the online comp at (sorry, no idea how to put a proper link in a comment!!) is good for generating germs of ideas.

Oh, and stationery of course. Preferably pinched from the workplace ;0)

Amanda said...

Sometimes my ideas come to me as Helen's do. Other times they are triggered by real events. In fact, the novel I'm attempting, is based totally on something very small that happened when I visisted my mum. And I've since been adding to the idea and developing it over time.

Good luck with novel 2 x

Anonymous said...

Well number one was based on a girl moving to the US from the Uk - wonder where I got that idea ;)

No 2 was based on a what if moment from a another book.

And No 3 which is floating about started with the character.

Glad you seem to have come up with an idea, hope it keeps developing.

Karen said...

I've had a couple of ideas based on 'what if' moments from tv dramas, and articles in magazines. What you're doing sounds great though - I like the idea of your theme being something you'd like to know about :o)

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Good luck with your idea hunt Yvonne! I always think a paperchase notebook is inspiring, so I hope it helps :)

Fionnuala said...

Whatever works for you works. I dont think there aany rules. If there are can someone let me know?!
I do find notebooks help - all over the place!Fx

Pat Posner said...

I'll sometimes look at picture maps or models I've made and 'people' the houses and buildings. Then I'll play 'What if?' with some of the characters and/or places on the maps or models.

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