Sunday, February 10, 2008

What's the Big Idea?

(NB: This picture doesn’t have anything to do with this post, except that the wind chill is well below zero here today, and I’m sick of winter.)

I wish I was one of those writers with a recipe-box full of ideas (coughtrishcough) – but I’m just not. I usually have one or two ideas beyond my work-in-progress, which is enough to keep me from assuming that when I’m finished with the current work I won’t ever write again.

A lot of my ideas come from what I would call “tangential research.” When I’m learning about whatever my current subject is, there will be a little mention of something else that I find intriguing. Once in awhile, those little mentions stick with me, like a splinter that I can’t quite pull out. And that will sometimes start a series of what-ifs. The “what-if” stage is important – that’s when I know I’m really hooked, and that a story will probably come out of it. It doesn’t always happen – sometimes the what-if’s fizzle, or I just can’t get excited enough to pursue it, but that’s the general pattern of how my story ideas are born.

It would sound so much more wonderfully mystical to say that I dream things that I write about, or that the characters start whispering to me in my head. I would love to get ideas that way, but if I’m being honest? It’s just plain ol’ curiosity taken too far that gets me another story. As long as they keep coming, though, I’m not complaining!

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