I’m reading a book I picked up at BEA a few years ago called The Mind of Your Story, discover what drives your fiction, by Lisa Lenard-Cook. She talks a lot about the left brain, right brain thing. Apparently, I get which one is which mixed up all the time, but I do get that one side leads in analytic thinking and the other in creativity.
She talks about taking individual story ideas and putting them together with other story ideas. Maybe you think about a hurricane hitting a small seacoast town. Later on you think about a baby that’s born without legs. And then you something makes you think about aliens landing to learn about our culture. You might put those three story seeds together and write about a woman giving birth during a hurricane and being rescued by compassionate aliens. Hmm, that might be fun to write!
One of her examples was about visiting some elderly friends who both had Alzheimer’s. She went on to describe how she put that story together with two other story seeds, but I was stuck on the two friends with Alzheimer’s. My grandmother had that so I remembered what it was like in the nursing home, seeing her in her wheelchair, lost to the world. She couldn’t, or wouldn’t talk much, and when she did, it wasn’t really her. But two friends with the same illness in the same nursing home made me think of a story idea. What if the two of them could communicate to each other? What if there were lively conversations between them that no one else could see? It could be both sweet and painful.
I’m not very good at writing down tidbits of ideas that I get, but I’m going to start doing that. They may not turn into full-length books, but maybe short stories. Or maybe there is a breakout novel in those germ seeds. That’s the fun part of being a writer. It’s ok to let your imagination run away with you. If you don’t, your stories can be stilted. The three seed idea is intriguing too. Sounds like an interesting way to come up with ideas if you’re stuck.
What do you do to come up with ideas?