Where Do Great Ideas Come From?

 

1. Brainstorming

It’s a familiar, old way to generate new ideas, used by company managers at project discussions. The members of the team should answer the questions “what, why and how?” All ideas are welcome! A project, just like a book starts with a fabulous idea.

2. Doing Writing Exercises–Respond to a Writing Prompt

Sometimes prompts may stir your imagination. Especially since writing is nothing organized and orderly–all of us try to manage somehow, but it is creative chaos. You never know when something completely irrelevant may inspire you. Keep writing. Here are some samples of writing prompts from Tumblr.

“Spare me your pity.”
“You confuse pity with love.”

Oh, you beautiful, wonderful idiot…

“That’s one huge swimming pool.”
“That’s the fucking ocean.”

“I’m not asking you to be a saint, just a good man!”
“Let’s get something nice and sparkling clear.
If there is a good man out there somewhere it’s not me,
and I don’t have a problem with that. Okay?”

“Are you coming or not?”

“I didn’t mean to kill you.”
“Oh, it was just an accident then?”
“Ya! Thanks for understanding”

3. Music Encourages Your Creativity

Music makes all of us emotional, and it is one of the best things for the soul. Usually, people are inspired by the texts almost as much as from the melody. Pick a song that makes your heart sing… and write on.

4. Freewriting–sit down and write whatever you think–let thoughts run free on the page

This is something like a brain dump. Only it is employed by some well-known authors in their writing. Jack Kerouac experimented with free prose aside from drugs, when he wrote his masterpiece On the Road–and here is a quote from it:

The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

Probably another good sample of freewriting is James Joyce’s modern work Ulysses, in which Penelope is thinking, without even minding the punctuation marks:

O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down Jo me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

5.Making Lists

Now lists are the best organizational tool ever! But lists also stir our imagination–and they can be really original–for example–try to make a list of the weird nicknames of European Kings. Or the best melodies the world knows how to sing. Or famous people and their addiction to tea…

Enjoy a shortlist of the astrological qualities of the planets.

Sun: Potent, solar life influence
Moon: Veiled self
Mercury: Quality of mind
Venus: The art of existence
Mars: Active Will
Jupiter: Quest for meaning
Saturn: Personal mentoring
Uranus: Cosmic politician
Neptune: The great vision
Pluto: Preparation for the underworld

6.Making Mind Maps

It’s a good tool for giving a first shape of your ideas. It helps you see clearly and generate ideas. All of us have done it in school–so–take your crayons, open a clean notebook and start creating. You can also use some mind-mapping software such as Docear.

7. Get Inspired By A Real Person

You know – that could be you. Most of the works are based on the author’s experience, whether or not that is conscious. Historical novels are also written about real people. One of them was Petronius Arbiter (the judge of exquisite taste)–who was known for his extravagant lifestyle. Why he inspires? Said Petronius:

“People always ask me whether my name is Titus or Gaius. I always tell them the same thing: how dare you speak to me!”

8.Focusing on Character and Setting

Why do you read novels? It’s the characters and their world. You fall in love with the good characters; you follow their destiny with interest and curiosity; you are at all times, alert, guessing, tantalized. So imagine your character vividly in your head and ask him several questions about his story.

Me: Does this fit you? Is this right? Is this something you’d say? Is this someone you’d be friends with?

My original character: (knocks the new idea right out of my hands) No. Try again.

KEEP TRYING.

9.Research An Interesting Time Period

Back to history… pick a time you hate such as the Middle Ages. Times you hate are interesting times full of characters who resemble the heroes from Game of Thrones… You may not base your world entirely in the Middle Ages, but you can borrow interesting facts from these time periods as at the beginning of one of my stories:

If you look at modern times, the technical progress and the wonders of civilization do not surprise anyone, but magick is not our cup of tea. Still, there was an age of time, when all people dealt with magick and that was no secret at all. We call this period the Unknown Ages, for we know almost nothing about the way people lived in those times. It was a world full of supernatural heroes who killed dragons and wise women, who stirred potions, and some eminent figures of those times have survived to tell their story.

10. Spend The Day In A Certain Setting

Go to the park! Or to the pool! Walkabout with your camera and take pictures of small bugs and flowers. Swim, sunbathe, dance… Don’t forget to hit it off with the most exciting person around. You will have lots to write after the day is done.

11. Choose A Specific Genre To Focus On

Most genres have rather rigid rules. Let’s take romance for example: there is a clear structure, and this according to an established female author is the basis of it:

1. The heroine’s social identity is destroyed.
2. The heroine reacts antagonistically to an aristocratic male.
3. The aristocratic male responds ambiguously to the heroine.
4. The heroine interprets the hero’s behavior as evidence of a purely sexual interest in her.
5. The heroine responds to the hero’s behavior with anger or coldness.
6. The hero retaliates by punishing the heroine.
7. The heroine and hero are physically and/or emotionally separated.
8. The hero treats the heroine tenderly.
9. The heroine responds warmly to the hero’s act of tenderness.
10. The heroine reinterprets the hero’s ambiguous behavior as the product of previous hurt.
11. The hero proposes/openly declares his love for/demonstrates his unwavering commitment to the heroine with a supreme act of tenderness.
12. The heroine responds sexually and emotionally.
13. The heroine’s identity is restored.

12.Blend Several Genres Together

Now that you know the rules–why not break them and create a fantasy-romance for example? That’s something many people would read! People or young adults… anyhow, this is the genre I love the most. And there are plenty of dark romance-fantasies on Amazon, but I happen to like adding a pinch of comedy to mine–so that they may become weirdly lighthearted.

13. Start With The Main Situation Or The Conflict

As Kurt Vonnegut put it–every character must want something the entire time–even if it’s just a glass of water. From wanting and not having arises “the conflict.” Stories “want” conflict, they “want” to be problematic. Writing is a manner of exploring and showing, teaching and making readers think. So you feel in one of both ways:

“You stay quiet while a war happens within you.”
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”

14. Find The Internal And The External Problem Your Character Is Challenged By

So, by all means, create Problems for your characters, you know–put them through something so they may bravely survive and the audience can get the chance to clap their hands and admire them. Do not give them everything make sure they lack something, make them deserve it.

15. Create A Plot Outline

Now there are two types of writers in this world–plotters and pantsers. Pantsers sit and write. Plotters, however, need an outline. Outlining is a process in which a little idea, which can come from literary anything, develops into a bigger Idea. It is time to figure out the central idea/themes/questions and important characters. Then set the stage–world-building, characters, and their relationships. At this stage, you should be able to outline your novel. It should look something like this, and it should inspire you:

16. Identify The Top 10 Books Written On Your Topic And Read Them, Include The Classics

Learn from the masters. Just like in business, you study the competition and try to create a product that is better for the customers. One way of understanding the boundless existing writing theory on a deeper level is by reading and discovering its rules in the prose itself. Then comparing, even sometimes borrowing the rhythm from sentences.

17.Story Generators

That’s the craze of writers online–it’s sort of gambling while writing–when a virtual program is set to give you ideas about a piece of writing. There are many such generators, some generate names, some plot for you, but reeling all of them is really lots of fun. However, I believe humans are still more creative than machines… but I do use generators for my castle names and the names of the magickal inhabitants of the Enchanted forest.

18. Carry a Notebook Everywhere

You can pick inspiration from your daily round. Just take a notebook with you. Notice, observe, put down. You will soon find that your walks are a great source of ideas.

19. But the best ideas come up with writing itself…

20. Just Write!

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