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How do you come up with Ideas? What's your process exactly. (1 Viewer)

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indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
Hi, and welcome again.
I doubt there's a clear answer to your question - they come from all over the place. I'm a lucid dreamer, so some of mine come from there. Others arrive via past experiences; things I've done and people I've known. Videos, books, and curiosity that drives me to research an unusual subject, all these provide inspiration. From that, I weave a story.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Stories just happen for me ... it's the reason I wanted to write in the first place. I think upside down and that leads to some really interesting and unique stories. What if a baby refused to be born? What if a ghost didn't haunt, but rather people choose to be haunted?

Start with a 'what if'. It's the oldest trick in the book.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
"Exactly", not many stories I could tell you 'exactly' where they came from, but quite often it is a principle in something else I read, eg A story in Herodotus about how a Royal House was founded involving a weak man and a strong woman led to the story 'The wedding' which is next for me to record for my YouTube channel, and a Kipling story of a moral and immoral woman fighting over an innocent boy is the basis for "The Ship". They are what I call 'Pinching the plot', though the story is unrecognisable by the time I have finished.
What Cephus says about keeping your eyes open is very true, but I would add to that 'Keep a notebook with you'. It doesn't have to be a posh moleskin, a spiral bound from the supermarket does just as well. Jot down every little unusual thing, there are two things about this. Firstly you don't forget them, you may mean to remember, you won't, it is human nature to move on to the next thing all the time, secondly when you read through them later in a different place and with a different mindset they will spark further ideas.
Look for the frustrating, I thought of a simple wave machine that would give forward motion, I built one and it worked, and then I thought "Yes, but with all their money invested in ships with engines who would want it? That was the spark that led to 'A family business', and 'used up' a few other ideas from my notebooks along the way.
Listen to other people's stories, trapping bees in a phone box was a childhood prank someone told me about. Asking the questions how it came about and the consequence of it led to 'Playing out', ask questions.

I could go on and on, but at the heart of everything is the notebook, a lot of what you notice may never get used, a lot may get used as 'incidental ideas' rather than 'main story ideas', but the more you use it the better you get at spotting things, and if it is rubbish it really doesn't matter, it is only for your own reference.
 

Davinci

Senior Member
Stories just happen for me ... it's the reason I wanted to write in the first place. I think upside down and that leads to some really interesting and unique stories. What if a baby refused to be born? What if a ghost didn't haunt, but rather people choose to be haunted?

Start with a 'what if'. It's the oldest trick in the book.
Amazing tip
I'll remember that
"What if"
Thank yOu so much.
 

Davinci

Senior Member
Just keep your eyes open. Ideas are everywhere. Everything you see, everything you read, everything you watch and everywhere you go. All you have to do is be open to writing them down and combining them in interesting ways.
Wow
It means alot
Thank You so much :)

I got you
Inspiration is everything
Inspiration is everywhere
Observation/Conscious experiencing is key to lead their.
Amazing 🥀
 

Davinci

Senior Member
Hi, and welcome again.
I doubt there's a clear answer to your question - they come from all over the place. I'm a lucid dreamer, so some of mine come from there. Others arrive via past experiences; things I've done and people I've known. Videos, books, and curiosity that drives me to research an unusual subject, all these provide inspiration. From that, I weave a story.

Thank You so Much
I appreciate your replies

I got you
Inspiration is everything 🙂
 

Selorian

Patron
You are very unlikely to get any two answers to your questions that are exactly the same. There will be some things similar, of course, but it is unique for each person.

Where don't I get ideas from? They come from everywhere. Dreams, bits of overheard conversations, things my kids have said, books, movies, tv shows, experiences, speculating, asking questions, writing prompts, and on and on and on. Anything my imagination latches on to and begins spinning into something more than what it began as. They stay in my head or notebook, evolving and possibly combining, as I ask what if questions about them until they get to a point where I have to write them.

Some example questions I ask myself for things that sparked ideas for me inspired in the ways I listed above...

What if it was the living haunting the dead?
What if a werewolf came for Christmas?
What if memories were locked away in coveted possessions?
What if Excalibur was a person rather than a sword?
Why would a person snort the ashes of the dead?
What would happen if the empty areas of space was where spirits went?
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
Something I do occasionally to scare up ideas is to get set up with pen, paper, and a timer/hourglass. (I have a 15 minute hourglass that I like). Specifically pen and paper, not screen (creating the letters by hand seems to push my brain to work a little differently than typing).

If you're working with a prompt, write it, if not, don't worry about it though having an idea or word to start with is helpful for this.

Flip the hourglass or start a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and start doing word association. I write mine in columns and rows on the notepaper, sometimes switching directions. You'll end up with a page of words in columns. Don't stop, just write the next word that comes into mind, write it and move on to the next one. The idea is to just fill the page and go onto another page if you need to keep going until the timer is done.

Take a short walk, get a snack, do a small task that takes you away from what you've just done. (optional step but sometimes helpful)

Come back again with the timer and this time you can handwrite or type. Look at your rows of listed words and pick out three or four at random. Type or write these. They're what you'll be writing about for this little sprint.

Start your timer and start writing, try to weave those words or ideas associated with them into a few paragraphs. It doesn't have to be a coherent story, it may just be part of a scene or a piece of dialogue or mainly description. It does help if you try to push for a progression, something happens. Do this even if it's uncomfortable until the timer goes off. Nobody is allowed to interrupt you unless your chair is actually on fire.

Now, ignore what you've just done. Take a breath, walk around a little, pat yourself on the back.

Come back and pick out another three or four words, do this again. Doesn't have to be even tangentially related to the first writing-sprint story because you've forgotten that one already. Right now while the timer goes THIS one is all that matters. Do. Not. Stop.

Timer goes off.

Do this several times.

If you can leave these little bits alone for a few hours or until the next day that means fresher eyes than if you just go back and read right away but if you can't wait there's no blame. You've just created several ideas that didn't exist before.

Now to decide which one you'd like to create a whole story from. Or at least which one you'll create a story from first!
 
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TheMightyAz

Mentor
You are very unlikely to get any two answers to your questions that are exactly the same. There will be some things similar, of course, but it is unique for each person.

Where don't I get ideas from? They come from everywhere. Dreams, bits of overheard conversations, things my kids have said, books, movies, tv shows, experiences, speculating, asking questions, writing prompts, and on and on and on. Anything my imagination latches on to and begins spinning into something more than what it began as. They stay in my head or notebook, evolving and possibly combining, as I ask what if questions about them until they get to a point where I have to write them.

Some example questions I ask myself for things that sparked ideas for me inspired in the ways I listed above...

What if it was the living haunting the dead?
What if a werewolf came for Christmas?
What if memories were locked away in coveted possessions?
What if Excalibur was a person rather than a sword?
Why would a person snort the ashes of the dead?
What would happen if the empty areas of space was where spirits went?
Leave it alone, folks. I've already got that one bookmarked.
 

Davinci

Senior Member
You are very unlikely to get any two answers to your questions that are exactly the same. There will be some things similar, of course, but it is unique for each person.

Where don't I get ideas from? They come from everywhere. Dreams, bits of overheard conversations, things my kids have said, books, movies, tv shows, experiences, speculating, asking questions, writing prompts, and on and on and on. Anything my imagination latches on to and begins spinning into something more than what it began as. They stay in my head or notebook, evolving and possibly combining, as I ask what if questions about them until they get to a point where I have to write them.

Some example questions I ask myself for things that sparked ideas for me inspired in the ways I listed above...

What if it was the living haunting the dead?
What if a werewolf came for Christmas?
What if memories were locked away in coveted possessions?
What if Excalibur was a person rather than a sword?
Why would a person snort the ashes of the dead?
What would happen if the empty areas of space was where spirits went?
OMG
Thank You so much
You have no idea how much it cleared me :)
I am grateful 🙂
 

Davinci

Senior Member
Something I do occasionally to scare up ideas is to get set up with pen, paper, and a timer/hourglass. (I have a 15 minute hourglass that I like). Specifically pen and paper, not screen (creating the letters by hand seems to push my brain to work a little differently than typing).

If you're working with a prompt, write it, if not, don't worry about it though having an idea or word to start with is helpful for this.

Flip the hourglass or start a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and start doing word association. I write mine in columns and rows on the notepaper, sometimes switching directions. You'll end up with a page of words in columns. Don't stop your brain from writing the next word that comes into mind, just write it and move on to the next one. The idea is to just fill the page and go onto another page if you need to keep going until the timer is done.

Take a short walk, get a snack, do a small task that takes you away from what you've just done. (optional step but sometimes helpful)

Come back again with the timer and this time you can handwrite or type. Look at your rows of listed words and pick out three or four at random. Type or write these. They're what you'll be writing about for this little sprint.

Start your timer and start writing, try to weave those words or ideas associated with them into a few paragraphs. It doesn't have to be a coherent story, it may just be part of a scene or a piece of dialogue or mainly description. It does help if you try to push for a progression, something happens. Do this even if it's uncomfortable until the timer goes off. Nobody is allowed to interrupt you unless your chair is actually on fire.

Now, ignore what you've just done. Take a breath, walk around a little, pat yourself on the back.

Come back and pick out another three or four words, do this again. Doesn't have to be even tangentially related to the first writing-sprint story because you've forgotten that one already. Right now while the timer goes THIS one is all that matters. Do. Not. Stop.

Timer goes off.

Do this several times.

If you can leave these little bits alone for a few hours or until the next day that means fresher eyes than if you just go back and read right away but if you can't wait there's no blame. You've just created several ideas that didn't exist before.

Now to decide which one you'd like to create a whole story from. Or at least which one you'll create a story from first!
Great Great Tip.
Thank You Foxee
It is so helpful i am grateful.
Thanks for your time :)
 

bazz cargo

Retired Supervisor
And Where do ideas come from ?
Who, how, what, where, when, why and Hmmm....
Who do you want to write about?
How did something happen?
What happened and what happened next?
Where did it happen?
When did it happen?
Why did it happen?
And Hmmm... that requires some thinking about.

Essential tools in the writer's toolbox.

Ideas are not a problem, making sense out of them is the name of the game.
Good luck
BC
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
I have no process. I have a glass rabbit. Like sunlight on water it glints and disappears. If I don't follow, I lose it.

What summons it? Unknown, could be a word, some minute detail, a book title, or a fragment of music. But all of them call forth the glass rabbit.

No two processes are ever the same, like finger prints and DNA, they are unique to the individual. Expecting another's process to function for us is like borrowing another wizard's wand. As Mr Ollivander observed, you would get results, but not necessarily the best results.

Because I fall on the spectrum my writing habits, I know would never work for anyone else, when your desk chair is a giant yoga ball...
 
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Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Yes, the most important thing, get bum on seat, or yoga ball if you like. There is little that assists creation as much as being creative. The notebook focuses you to be attentive, to absorb what has significance. Actually sitting down to it focuses you on creation, and often leads to expansion of ideas and creation.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Well, I do have a theme song that I start with to get me into the right headspace. Then it's hard work. Sometimes nothing is happening. So I just take a character and put her somewhere. Like driving on the Brooklyn Bridge on a Saturday afternoon. Then I picture myself in the car and what I might be experiencing from a sensory point of view. That could be a combination of my memory of having been there myself and times that I have seen it or read about it. Next, I think about why she might be there and what could be going on in her mind, and then just start writing that. That usually leads to her destination, as she swerves abruptly or does something else, but hopefully, by now, I'm on my way to writing the next scene.
 
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