Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I am curious, you writers

How does an idea come to you?

For instance, if you're a poet (Lisa B., Radagast) how does the poem start? With an image? A word? An impulse? Or if you write short stories, how does that happen? And why a story and not a personal essay? Or novel? And if it is, in fact, a novel, when and how do you know it's a novel?

In other words, I want to know what your harvesting/beginning process is like. Discuss, please.


Kim said...

My first books have all been ideas that came to me and excited me. But I'm learning to generate ideas, rather than wait for them. Trudy Harris taught me a great technique. She lists potential characters, potential problems, potential settings, things like that, and then sees what ideas she can generate by mixing and matching. It's fun.

And then I watched an amazing writing conference talk on youtube by John Brown and Larry Correia called How to Write a Story that Rocks. It's about coming up with a great story, and it uses a technique similar to Trudy's. I've been using it to come up with ideas for the Project Writeway contest, and I think it's really improved the ideas I'm coming up with.

One of my favorite things that John Brown said in the class was, "Follow your zing." When you generate ideas, follow the ones that make you excited.

This is the web address for the first youtube video of the class:

Lisa B. said...

I start with an impulse (wait...impossible poet-talk ahead: )--something that calls attention to itself as being a poem. It is often an image, or a word and an image, or a half line, or a conjunction of thought, word, and image.

Sometimes, I have a kind of complex idea about a poem, but those are almost always the hardest kind, because they *didn't* start with an impulse, but with an idea. If that makes sense.

Also, I think you really cannot overstate the value of just writing stuff down, day by day, and periodically going through all of that stuff, underlining good phrases or images you think you might want to work with. In this case, the impulse arises from something that's already written.

If you would like, now, to hear Lecture 2, The Poetic Mind, just send me an e-mail or maybe I will just show up on your blog's doorstep and start lecturing. Value-added, baby.

Tiffany said...

When my son poops on the floor, I think: Column!

When a phrase runs itself over and over through my head, I think: Poem!

When I really want to buy a family canoe, I scrounge around in my head for a real news story that will make me real money and pitch it to my editor.

When I talk to myself too much, I think: it's time to blog.

And when an idea flashes into my head that I would love to wallow in for over a hundred pages, well, that becomes a story.

Emily said...

Many things:
A Shakespeare Play
A phrase
An image

These are some of them. I wonder if it's different every time?

Joseph Ramirez said...

Emotions do it for me. When I feel something about something, I write about it.

For me, ideas come from learning., and learning from curiosity. Learning things is one of my hobbies. I'm forever reading history and information books. The more I put in my head, the more chances there are that two or more facts will collide and create an idea, and if I feel something about that idea, then I write it.

radagast said...

I'm just surprised and excited to be in the same parentheses with Lisa B.!
And, you know, if I give away my craft secrets, well, then ANYONE could post their poems on a blog. Wait . . .

James said...

I am not really a writer, but I do have ideas. And when I do write, I rarely share. But nevertheless, here are a few things I do. There is a fountain of good ideas in the State of Hypnogagia. Ideas come to me when I am semi-conscious, and then its up to me to write them down so I don't forget whan I am awake.

During conversation, I also think in my head of rhyming words with the last word
bed... wed...fed. Sometimes this will lead to a poem, or a joke, or something else.

I also think life just gives you material. You writers watch, and then write, and then we'll buy the ticket.