Coming Up With An Idea

As I was trying to come up with ideas for short stories and a novel I searched for methods to do so but one word kept popping up: anything. Anything that you think of, anything that pops to your mind, anything at all can be developed. As much as I found it to be true, it was no help to me at all.

I am not one to share my raw ideas with people since they usually have no real meaning and to be honest, I know how stupid it is of me, I fear criticism at that stage. I wouldn’t like my simple idea being criticized before it even got a spark of life in it to survive on its own.

But how do we get to the idea and grab it? The process is personal. And wait, that doesn’t mean I’ll just say it’s different for everyone and leave you hanging. I’m about to tell you my own process so we can examine it.

When I was writing the first draft my novel, I had no real idea what I was going to write about. Now’s the time to mention I’m a classical music geek so I use classical music to get inspired. At the time I had just discovered Giuseppe Tartini and his famous Devil’s Trill Sonata so I was listening to it. It was a hot summer day and I brainstormed a little, and my mind got locked to the images of old Spanish roads that I had traveled by a few years ago.

2-rainbows-at-the-sunrise-1466726See, now it gets complicated, I wasn’t moved by the Spanish road as much as by the color palette that I imagined. Everything I thought of was almost sepia-like, yellowish and burnt. So I kept thinking about it and
came up with an imaginary town (to be honest, I like writing fiction from scratch and I like inventing towns, people, conflicts, religions, etc.). But, not to go too far with one idea, the thing that got me writing was actually a cloud. As I saw it I imagined a terrible storm that I wanted to incorporate in my story so I wrote those ideas down. At that moment, I had a little yellow town, a storm and Giuseppe Tartini. I immediately knew Tartini would have a part to play, or his works, at least.

But where to go next? Well, that’s easier. Once you have an image or a word that triggers your emotions, your inspiration, you can go anywhere by asking yourself simple questions about it. When I thought of a storm I asked myself who was affected by it and I thought it would be cool if I had a house at the end of a lane where a loner lives, old man with open windows with Devil’s Trill Sonata playing on a gramophone inside. So I thought about him some more. Why was he alone? Why would he leave open windows seeing that the storm was coming? And this is what I came up with: he was a washed up painter whose career had reached it’s finest glory very early in his life. So it’s a story of success and failure, I realized. I thought it would be really cool it the novel was covering his past in that yellow town while he was listening to music and drinking tea moments before the storm. I saw some metaphors on the horizon there. So the whole book would be set in a few minutes of his life in a house at the end of a lane with triggers for memories. For example, the first part, the day he left his home and went to study painting in the yellow town was triggered by the taste of that tea he was sipping. Now I had the real idea of where I was going so I was able to do the characterization and then the plot.

You can do the same thing. You can do a few things to trigger the inspiration. Be exposed to the things you like! Don’t force yourself. If you like visual inspiration then look up photos of things you like. A photo of an old house can trigger a horror novel, a romantic story set in different time, a thriller story… Truly anything can get your ideas to come. Another way you can do that is by visiting book stores and looking at titles and covers. It’s not plagiarism if you don’t even know what’s the book about but if it has a compelling title it can trigger the idea of what it might be about so write it down.

It’s really important to write ideas down so you can see them at any time. I’ll do a separate posts about idea selection, brainstorming, etc. You can listen to people. I wrote a short story about an old lady running a bar because I heard an old waitress saying how slow the business in her bar was.

Here is more on the development of ideas. They just pop-up, but you can trigger them. It’s in your power to let an idea appear only from exposing yourself to inspirational things in your surrounding.

11 thoughts on “Coming Up With An Idea

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