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Monday, March 12, 2007

Ideas and Where They Come From

From another contest entry suggested blog topic...Where do I come up with ideas? I'm going to assume that means book ideas. :)
I know that a lot of writers say this...but I get ideas from everywhere.

I watch television and get ideas.
For example: I didn't turn the channel fast enough one night and ended up watching the first few moments of Cops. My question is why do the "alleged" criminals always run? Don't they know that half the police force is dogging their heels?
My idea for a book (one I haven't even written yet) is...what if someone was involved in a high speed chase across town and once they were cornered, a lone figure leapt out of the car as police pursued them on foot? What if it turned out that the bad guy was pretending to be the car jack victim cowering in the back seat and the "true" frightened owner had been threatened and sent running from the vehicle as a decoy?

I read the newspaper and get ideas.
For example: I was reading an article in the paper the other day regarding a debate growing over the patenting of genes. A new bill is being introduced that would prohibit claims to pieces of human DNA. The very subject of human DNA intrigues me. Adding in the whole science fictional nature of the mapping of the human genome and chemical blueprint of our DNA is completely fascinating. I didn't know this, but according to the article I read, an estimated one-fifth of human genes already carry patents on them.
What happens when the patents expire? Do patents ever expire? Could the gene that determines my hair color suddenly have it's patent expire making me blonde without license?
Perhaps not. :)

I read magazines to get ideas.
My favorite is Popular Science. They have cool scientific stuff inside. I also read Newsweek to keep up with current events. I read National Geographic. I saw a very interesting article on Dragonflies in an issue last year. And I have to admit grudgingly that I've seen some interesting articles in Maxim as well. :) Maxim has the occasional cool article like 'how to be a sniper?'

Sometimes ideas just land in my brain for no apparent reason at all.
I'll use one of my own books as a frame of reference for this idea gathering topic. :)

I was about to take a class in my RWA chapter which would take place over several months. It was called the Book By August group. A bunch of us from our chapter got together to cheer each other on and to ultimately finish a book.
We started in February and met one a month to learn about different aspects of writing such as point of view or goal, motivation, and conflict. We took what we learned and applied it to our own books.
For the very first class I had to come up with a premise, a hero, and a heroine. I wanted to be ready so I decided to think up a brand new idea. I had a lot of ideas, but the one I came up with popped into my head the day before the first class.
The first question that just popped into my brain was...What if a bomb technician was afraid of explosions?
That question led to others...What if the bomb technician was a girl? Why would she be afraid of explosions? Who would be a good hero for her? How about a firefighter?
I decided early on that the reason she was afraid of explosions was because her parents were killed in a bombing when she was young.
That was all I started with to write The Blonde Bomb Tech. :)
I built my story from there.

Other idea makers...listening to conversations around me.
Hearing new music will sometimes trigger an idea for me.
Watching movies...driving in my car...watching the ocean waves crash on the beach. I could go on, but it's actually now past my bedtime.
...which makes me think of dreams and yet another source of book ideas... :):)



At 9:31 AM, Blogger Jennifer McK said...

I get ideas from the weirdest places. But the weirdest ones are the ones that come out of literally NOWHERE. A character stands up and starts nattering away VERY loudly and I have to write her. What's interesting is that my characters will tell me something and I'll research it and they're right. *insert Twilight Zone music here*


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