Peggy Bechko: Tracking The Wild Writer’s Ideas


by Peggy Bechko

Many writers are so brimming with ideas it’s hard to know how to choose one and continue on, spinning that one story when so many other clamor for attention.

Other writers are great at the writing part, but are hard pressed to come up with that first idea; that seed from which to grow the organic story they dream of.

And writers who are published or screenwriters produced are forever being asked, “Where do you get your ideas?”

So, since I have time only for a short post today I decided to toss out a few ideas on how to come up with those ideas.

Most good writers are curious. They’re forever asking “What is it?” or “What could it be?” or “What if?” From this curiosity comes wonderful ideas, and those ideas come at all times. The trick is to catch them, get them pinned down down. Keep a note pad at your bedside, in your pocket, in your purse, backpack, whatever. Stories don’t generally spring forth full-blown. Usually an idea or a premise precedes them. A word can spark an idea. Jot it down, more words will follow.

“What if” is the gate to a magical world. Daydream. Imagine. “What if” vampires were not dark and evil, but good, strong and protectors of the human race? Check out SherrilynKenyon’s Dark-Hunter series of romances. What if a young boy in winning a video game unknowingly wins the war against aliens attacking earth? Check out Orson ScottCard’s Ender’s Game and the series that follows. What if wolves could bond with humans and communicate telepathically? Check out my novel Stormrider. What if Bears once ruled the earth and the conscious memory of that time is returning to them – hey go write that one for yourself.

Some writers need to map out their entire book or script before they begin. Others work best on the fly. Writing, generating a story, creates many of its own surprises. If you’re the kind who works best on the fly you’ll find your characters will take on lives of their own and they’ll surprise you with where they take the story you begin. Surprise – this happens with those who ‘map their course’ as well.

You might see a photo in a magazine or the newspaper. Clip it out. Put it where you can see it. Wait and see what ideas might come.

You might overhear a phrase spoken in public. Write it down. Think about what it might mean, who said it, what the context is. Does it make you feel there is something going on there, something not visible on the surface? Pursue it. Jot down notes. Some of the most disjointed notes come together to form ideas and from ideas spurts of creative inspiration.

As Ray Bradbury once said, “You don’t build a story, you allow it to explode.” I’m kinda with Ray.

Ideas are everywhere, open your eyes
· Read a lot
· observe people
· take time to daydream

No kidding. Have at it.