Where Ideas Come From

This week I am doing some research for a short story. At the same time I am waiting for the penny to drop on an idea that is currently flitting around the edges of my subconscious – not wanting to settle quite yet. I find this one of the most frustrating parts of writing – waiting for that eureka moment.  Waiting for that spark of an idea that opens the flood gates to a stream of words. Waiting.

Sometimes it happens that, when researching for a story, I come across a tit bit that sparks off another idea, as happened this week. I was confirming a quote from one of my favourite classic TV shows; a variation of the phrase lodged in my subconscious – And Other Little Green Men. (Actual quote is: ‘and other Martians’.)  I am now working on the first draft of this story.

The serendipity of this (and other story prompts) then led me to scrutinising where my ideas come from . (Funny enough, this then led to writing this post). What has inspired me to write? A lot more things than I had realised; research was just one of them.

  1. The easiest is being given a theme: Some competitions supply a theme. Easy. Sometimes I ask my friends to provide one for me.
  2. Daydreaming or dreams also are a source of ideas. I have a small notebook that sits on the bedside table to jot down ideas
  3. eye unknown inspirationBeing a very visual person, the most common source of my inspiration are pictures. My poor family have to deal with me suddenly stopping – when driving (actually my hubby is driving and I am in the passenger seat), visiting, even walking along the footpath – to examine something from every angle and take photographs.  I also find pictures on the internet, in magazines or on television. I have an entire (quite massive) folder on my computer which is devoted to pictures that have sparked an errant thought that I want to return to later.)
    The Guest Upstairs was inspired by two photos – a mechanical eyeball and an animatronic.  (sorry, I don’t know the source of the photo – let me know if you recognise it).
  4. A passing comment. I was flicking channels on the idiot box and I heard a conspiracy theorist explaining how the Men in Black have been around for decades. This got me thinking…  And Fashioned in Black was written. Passing comments can also be heard on the radio and in the street.
  5. I love a good title. I love creating an intriguing title for a story. A good title makes a story. (Literally, when it sparks an idea) This is how Day of the Dirigible was born. I just loved the title. Then the perfect pink, frivilous toy dirigible popped into my head.

These are just a few of the top of my head. Anything that creates the germ of an idea that leads to a story is an inspiration. Take a look around, be open to the muse and enjoy the results!

rewriteGuestUpstairs THThe Guest Upstairs” rewrites: Photo: (c)Karen Carlisle 2013


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