• Ryanne Harper

Tipsy Tips: Ideas. Where do they even come from?

Deciding to write a book is a big deal, a lot of work, and a whole lot of fun. But where do you start? First things first, you need an idea.

Look, contrary to popular belief, it doesn't even have to be a great idea. Just a basic thought to get you started.

In his book On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft Stephen King claims that ideas are all around; you just have to notice them when they pop up. Guys, Uncle Stevie is not wrong. Just as an example, the idea for the next Lynx & LeRoux book came from a Presidential text alert. Before we knew it, we had a solid idea, the opening chapter, and a killer ending. All because we were receptive to the idea when it presented itself.

If you're feeling a bit impatient, here are a few things you can do to generate ideas:

  1. Play "What if?" This is exactly what it sounds like. Say you're at a coffee shop. Look around and pick out a person. Then start making things up about them. What if that woman is a spy? What if that man has a gun? The what ifs can be a wild as you want. Just like with anything else, this can take practice. Before you know it, you'll be speculating wildly about everyone.

  2. Try some writing prompts. There are a gazillion sites you can go to for writing prompts. Here's a link to one.

  3. Read. I know that sounds stupid (and fun) but, honestly, if you don't have time to read, you don't have time to write. Pick one of your favorite books and write an alternate ending, or change the setting to outer space. Or make it a western. You get the idea. (ha!)

  4. Think of three things and moosh them together. For instance: clowns, space travel, bank robbery. And go... By go I mean come up with a paragraph that incorporates all three of those elements. This doesn't have to be your book idea. But it could be. Who knows? Space traveling bank robbers dressed as clowns might be a hit.

Speaking of ideas, here are a few guidelines to follow when generating an idea:

  1. Be receptive. Ideas are everywhere.

  2. No idea it too stupid. Look, no idea is perfect when it pops into your head. Think it, jot it down, and sit with it for a minute. Something great just may come from it.

  3. Write your ideas down, put them in your phone, keep up with them in some way. You thinks you'll remember you killer ideas. You won't. Get a notebook.

  4. Please do yourself a solid and don't take yourself too seriously. Coming up with ideas is supposed to be the fun and easy part. So chill.

Looking for more writing tips? Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive tips as well as get access to our character development templates, plotting ideas, and more. Here's the link.

I will also be teaching a writing workshop at the Fort Smith Public Library on Saturday, January 18th from 2:00-4:00. I'll be covering the three components of fiction writing: character development, plot, and dialogue.You may register here, or call 479.783.0229.

Okay, bye.

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