Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Getting Ideas

Author Matthew Pearl recently discussed what it's like trying to think about what to come up with next. Marian Keyes has also famously and frequently discussed that she lives in fear of running out of ideas. I have the same fear--I worry that the well will run dry. After all, it takes a lot to put together a whole story with a plot and engaging characters. On top of that, the story idea has to be unique! Cripes! Not easy!

I current have about three more ideas cooking in my head on low heat. Mostly, they revolve around themes. Since I write women's fiction, I tend to want to explore themes that women identify with (or perhaps just me) like love, motherhood, confidence. But I also selfishly focus on my own demons: being an adult, making the right decisions, not being an arse. In my current work (the one in revision), one of the themes is identifying mistakes you've made, something I constantly try to do.

I once read this on Amazon from Sophie Kinsella and it stayed with me:

It's hard, in hindsight, to say exactly how a book comes into being. There are so many ideas and themes that get explored and discarded along the way; so many layers that are built up. Plus it's a bit like having a baby—once the hard work is over it becomes a blur!

But with all my novels, I usually start with one little kernel of an idea--and gradually build it up over months of thinking, plotting, the "coffee shop stage" as I call it. With Can you Keep A Secret? it was: what if you told someone all your secrets? With Remember Me? it was: what if you woke up and didn't recognize your life? What if you lost three years of memory--and everything had changed in that time?

And Les Edgarton in his book "Hooked" says that a common fear among beginning writers is that the well of ideas will run dry. (Although Matthew Pearl's post and Marian Keyes disprove that it's an affliction of beginning writers.) Edgarton says that in fact, there will not be enough time in our lives to get all the ideas out. I kind of liked that.

Where do you get ideas? What inspires you?

1 comment:

coffeelvnmom said...

Finally reading this, but obviously my answer would be my blog post yesterday!:)

I don't think we'll ever run OUT of ideas, we just seem to get STUCK on them every now and then!

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