Pop! What if…?

Pop!

There’s another idea. One of the most common questions people ask a writer is ‘where do you get your ideas from?’

I think just about anyone writing fiction, poetry, prose would not be able to answer that question, because in reality the ideas just pop into your head. Something happens on TV, you read something in the paper, see a small interaction on the street and, pop! Now there’s an idea.

My notebook - isn't it pretty 🙂

Without my little notebook many of these ideas would just evaporate.

I had a pop! moment last night in the shower. That seems to be a common place for ideas to pop into my head.

I’d watched a mildly good movie, googled one of the actors and read an anecdote about him on Wikipedia. While I was in the shower I was thinking about the anecdote and wondered what if?

Actually that’s probably the biggest inspiration in my writing. That phrase – what if?

What if the person that wrote that note was already married? What if one day I stopped and knocked on that door I keep looking at? What ifI bought a ring, or a blender or a snowboard from the pawn shop and the former owner frantically tracked me down. What if I used all the hot water in the shower coming up with story ideas – hee hee!

Can you answer the question? Where do you get your ideas from?

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20 responses to “Pop! What if…?

  1. I agree, I’m the same – my ideas just kind of materialise from nowhere. I had a great idea at about 3am last night, as I was struggling to get to sleep, and I remember thinking “my notebook is right there. I can flick the light on, and quickly jot it down. I really should do this. But I’m not going to. It’s okay, I’ll remember by the morning, I have a great memo…zzzz…” Anyway, I woke up this morning and forgot the idea, of course! A lot of the time, actually, I just start writing and my ideas come as I’m writing, which can lead to some interesting places.

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  2. I pull the “What If?” game a lot, but sometimes the characters wind up coming before the story. Then I wind up pulling the “OK, but how’d he get here and why is he holding an unconscious apprentice in a bridal carry?” question.

    …okay, maybe that’s specific to one particular setup.

    As for keeping track of them, I’m lucky enough that they happen around the time I’m working on something else. I just open a text file and write it down when that happens–and when I’m on the go, I have a little red notebook and a fountain pen ready for the task.

    The only problem with that is that sometimes that happens at zero-dark o-clock, and my handwriting isn’t always legible when I’m tired. “Write down coffee table?” What does that even mean…?

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  3. Quite a few people seem to get their best ideas in the shower – when you don’t have a notebook handy to jot things down (I wonder if using my husband’s shaving foam to write on the shower screen would work). I hear somewhere that this might be because it’s one of the few places left where we don’t take our mobiles, ipads, Blackberrys etc. with us.

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    • I never thought of it like that before. That would also explain the middle of the night thoughts, it’s another technology free moment. Imagine if I could bring myself to turn off the phone and not connect to the net how creative and productive I would be!

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  4. My ideas don’t come from just one place. Living life, sometimes something inspiring, or as you said sometimes they just “pop” into my head. If something just comes to me I’ve got to write it down, usually in one of several notebooks, but I’ve even written on a receipt if my notebook was missing.

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  5. I think that for me a lot comes from characters. They do a lot of things that I don’t expect. For example, one of my main characters is a detective. She has an assistant (a “Watson”). I was perfectly happy with them traveling the world together solving mysteries, but then she decided to seduce him. Came as a surprise to me, I can tell you. Then they got married, and now they’ve adopted a daughter. Which was really the daughter’s idea, but they got into it as well. I mean I had the idea of the girl starting to call them Mom and Dad, but it didn’t occur to me that they’d take it seriously and adopt her.

    This is why I don’t bother to write outlines. 🙂

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    • Those sneaky characters and their self determination! I am constantly surprised when my characters suddenly start running off script. Sure I’m a pants writer (no outlining for me, write by the seat of my pants) but seriously, where did that scene come from? No idea!

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  6. Yes, every story truly begins with “what if.” Nonwriters wonder how writers can come up with stories, while writers marvel that nonwriters don’t.

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  7. I love a good writing shower haha.

    Seriously, my ideas tend to materialize out of nothing, which probably means they’re made up of everything around me. Sometimes there are more obvious inspirations (usually the empty places in other stories) but usually it’s just… how to avoid the idea? They’re everywhere.

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  8. I’m liking your writing and thanking MarinaSofia for the intro 🙂

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