14 January 2015

Wednesday Writing Prompt #7

Where do you get your ideas from?

People who ask this are missing the most important point - that they're asking the wrong question. 

Every writer worth the appellation knows that ideas come from everywhere. The question should be...

How do you recognise an idea?

It's an ability of mind, an ability of enquiry, an ability to think  laterally, but it can be learned with surprisingly little practice. So let's try some:
  • following on from the previous Wednesday Writing Prompts, take any handy book (non-fiction or fiction) and with eyes closed open it and point to the text. Pick the first starting sentence on that line. No cheating. Interrogate that sentence with all the usual questions and go from there.
  • stand at your door - front garden, back porch, facing into the hall - close your eyes and turn your head slowly from shoulder to shoulder and back. Stop somewhere in the movement. Whatever your eyes focus on, interrogate that item or person as if it is your initial sentence - who would use it, what for, which person would interrupt, why?
  • open a newspaper (local or regionals are better than nationals for this). Alight on a news item. Let's say it's about a householder complaining that youths broke a window. The focus person in the news item is the owner of the window. Fictionalise the story, making the focus person not the owner of the window, but one of the youths, perhaps the one who threw the stone, perhaps not, it's up to you (and you have two stories in one staring at you just there). Who, what, where, when, how and most importantly why? Because he was forced to (why? who forced him?), because it was a dare (why didn't he refuse?), because he had an ulterior motive (what and why)....
 The cat never just sat on the mat - it was there for a reason. And there's another story prompt waiting to be fed and harvested.

Ten stories, how they were created and written, can be found in Reading A Writer's Mind: Exploring Short Fiction - First Thought To Finished Story

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