Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Where ideas come from

I'm speaking to a whole elementary school of kids about writing on Thursday.

Fortunately, this isn't as nerve-wracking as it sounds. It's two groups of about 12 kids each, and it's at my daughter's school. They were doing a unit on the writing process, and I volunteered to come in and talk about mine, as well as the publishing process in general. (The kids call their stories "published" when they're accepted by the teacher. If only, right?)

The writing process part of the presentation was easy. I've got visual aids and everything (plot boards, marked-up manuscripts, pictures of screaming people...). But the teacher also asked me to "please talk about where your ideas come from."


I know. That question gets asked all the time. But this one I had to really think about. To me, ideas are kind of magical. Sometimes I circle around an idea for a while, pinning it down; sometimes it drops into my head whole. Sometimes it comes from a dream; sometimes a line of text. How do you express that to kids in a way that encourages them, but still expresses that I don't *know* how it works?

I've decided to try this:

Story ideas come from everything you experience: everything you see, read, listen to. Imagination draws inspiration from everyday life, and twists it in a new way, unique to you.

To get story ideas, first you have to pay attention. Then you have to think, and allow yourself to imagine. What if is a fabulous phrase. Play with it.

And then I thought I'd try some what ifs with them, and see what they come up with.

What do you think? How would you answer the dreaded "ideas" question?


Patty Blount said...

I play What If constantly. My kids are so tired of it! But it's the best way I've found to identify the central conflict of a project.

Anonymous said...

I know! Maybe y'all can watch an episode of Chuck or something? ;)

Susan Adrian said...

Patty: What if is awesome!

CoverGirl: *SNORT* *gives you stinkeye* :))

Linda G. said...

How did it go?