Stages of Writing a Book: Post #1 (Coming Up With Ideas)

(This series of posts turned out to be longer than five videos.  It turned into seven.)

In this video, Janet Syas Nitsick and I discuss coming up with ideas for writing your next book.  Janet shares a couple of real life events that have inspired some things in her stories, such as a man dressing up as Santa Claus and getting stuck in the chimney or a man’s devotion to his wife. Sometimes something someone says or does can lead to something you can use in your book.  But what you do is make your own spin (or twist) off of it, so then it becomes your own idea in your story.  Make it fresh and unique. Other sources of ideas can be movies and other books.  Think of how things could have gone differently.  How would things have played out if the hero/heroine had made a different decision at some point?  Would the outcome have been different?   Usually, it would have.  The fun part is deciding how, and this could launch you into a fresh new idea for a book. Sources of information can come from many things.  You can even take people you know in real life and embellish them/change them so that they become unique characters.  Maybe you take a certain physical trait they have (such as hair color) or maybe you pick out a personality trait (such as their enthusiasm for life) and make that the launching pad for the character.  Often you will start out with a character patterned off someone you know, but then as the story progresses, the character will take on a life of their own and become different. The key to getting ideas is to watch people, listen to what is going on around you, ask a lot of “what if” questions, and be open to exploring new possibilities.

2 Comments

  1. ronfritsch says:

    My partner and I were watching an old movie the other night. I’d seen it when it first came out. As one scene moved along, I suddenly remembered it was the inspiration for a key scene in one of my novels. My partner saw the connection but only after I explained it. I doubt anybody else would notice it. My characters and those in the film live in far different places and times.

    1. That’s so much fun! I love it when pieces of something we’ve seen or read slip somewhere into our work. I think it makes it that much more enjoyable when we see or read that thing again.

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