This from Beverly: ” . . . I’m currently reading a book of essays, “This I Believe,” and am intrigued by the editors’ invitation to write on this topic and limit the essay to 500 words. This, of course, is similar to writing a story or article for a contest that is limited by topic, title, or lead sentence. Occasionally when I’m idea-dead, I find such an outside stimulus to be helpful.”
Fabulous idea! It is MUCH more difficult to write “tight” . . . only 500 words than it is to write as it “spews out.” This is one of the best exercises around. That would be a good goal for people. Write 500 words per topic. It SOUNDS easier than it is. But once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier and easier. And fun, too!
“Thanks for the ideas! I had a really terrible accident. I ended up going to the hospital and getting stitches near my chin. Now I’m really excited to write a story about it.”
You bring up an excellent idea AND a great point. When episodes happen to writers, we always look at the bright side. We can get material out of it. And the more emotion or humor the better. (Hope you have recovered from your accident.)
Ideas are like people. They come from many different places. Some have a life of their own, insistant, demanding their worth be recognized and allowed to develop. Others need TLC, hard work and constant reinforcement before they can bear close scrutiny.
I recently found myself staring into the main access shaft of the Empire Mine State Park (in California). The dimly lit tunnel with rails disappearing underground at an alarmingly steep angle of descent sparked an idea so fragile, I was almost afraid to consider it. This embyonic idea spent several weeks skulking around the recesses of my mind, barely acknowledged.
Only then, and much to my surprise, did an idea still too weak to survive on its own emerge – much like a new-born marsupial creeping into its mother’s pouch. I spent hours with a friend discussing possible plotlines, character traits, sources of tension and scenes.
Two months passed before I sat down at the computer to put ideas into words. I’m not one to map out an entire story before writing. Rather I feel as though I’m channeling my story, allowing it to surprise me as it twists and turns. Will this idea prove worthwhile? I can’t say. Not yet. But it came from a cool tunnel on a hot day in the motherlode.
It reminds me of what editor said about voice. “I know it when I see it.” That’s exactly like a good idea. You’ll get that tingle. If you write it down and it stays with you months later . . . THAT is a winner.
Thank you Beverly, Fatima, and Joanne for sharing YOUR idea sources! Liz