Where do ideas actually come from? It’s the question I get asked the most whenever I do a school visit. It’s also the question that’s the hardest to answer! You see I find that ideas can come from anywhere – from something as simple as what you see out of your bedroom window to something as complicated as a life-changing experience. My ideas aren’t always easy to come by though. I wish they were! Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way you could have an idea dropped down to you from ‘on high’ whenever you got stuck? A bit like the stork bringing a newborn baby.
But on a more serious note, where do we writers actually get our ideas? Obviously from the ways mentioned above. But also from something as simple as a character name. I know authors who have crafted whole stories on a powerful name. I wonder if our literary greats did the same – Oliver Twist, Frankenstein, Mary Poppins – they’re great names, aren’t they? They conjure up a story in themselves.
I wonder what came first – the name or the story? It would be interesting if we could ask the authors, wouldn’t it? After all, those names tell us so much before we’ve even read the book. In contemporary terms, Judy Moody, Agatha Parrott and Clarice Bean, to name but a few, are absolutely brilliant title names that lend themselves perfectly to a story.
I once worked with an author who had an ideas piggy bank. Literally. Every time she saw something she liked or found interesting – be it a story in a newspaper, or simply something she had seen in a park – she would put down a few words on a piece of paper and pop it the piggy.
Banked. Then, after 6 months, she would open up the piggy and piece all the papers together. She told me that she had usually forgotten putting half of the pieces of paper into the pot in the first place, but, believe it or not, she could usually craft a story out of them. And not just any old story. But a brilliant one too. Do you have any unusual ways of coming up with ideas? If so, I’d love to hear about them…