I love all the advice Keidi has to offer. Since it's the start of Nano WriMo, I thought a visit from her would be a great help to you. So here is her guest post for Techniques for Finding Ideas. Be sure to visit her site for even more tips and tricks to writing!
The Word Queen
Bringing Books To Life
Writing, Publishing & Book Marketing
Our dreams are very insightful. Not only do they feed us relevant information about our current circumstances, but they are also an excellent source of ideas for books!
If you think you don't dream, then you are wrong. We all dream, it's just that some of us remember our dreams easier than others. Keep a notepad and pen by the side of your bed or under your pillow and as soon as you awaken (whatever the time) write down what you'd just been dreaming about. If you really can't remember that's ok too - just write down anything that's in your head.
Repeat this process every morning, or every time you awaken from a sleep, and you'll soon train yourself to remember your dreams far easier. That information can then be analysed and used to form storylines, characters and even settings.
For example, last night I dreamt about being trapped in a burning house with no hopes of escaping. I felt sure I was going to die, but then an angel came to my rescue and broke the window so that I could climb out and escape. I then found myself flying through the sky, which was ablaze with wonderful vibrant colours. It was magical.
How could I use this dream to create a story...? I could write a story about a girl who didn't believe in angels until one saved her life. Perhaps this angel becomes her best friend and they go for many adventures together. Ok, so this kind of content might be more suitable for a children's book, but it's still an idea, which came from just one dream!
There are three parts to this technique.
- Newspaper / internet articles! Take a recent newspaper and either tear out or circle in red ink the stories which catch your eye, concentrating mainly on the headline.
If you're more technologically minded then you might prefer to do the same but on the internet. Log on to a popular daily news service such as BBC or CNN and copy and paste the most interesting headlines into a word document.
- Mull over these headlines for a while and then write down questions about each one as they occur to you. This is where your natural curiosity is exercised.
- Then ask a few 'what if' questions about the headlines. What if this had happened at a different time? What if this took place in a different location? What if the story had ended differently or began differently?
Step Into An Alter Ego
This one is a bucket of fun! All you have to do is imagine being a particular author or creative person who you admire / respect hugely, then meditate for twenty minutes or so, pretending to be that person. Ideas will scurry towards you. But not just any ideas. The exact kind of ideas that your alter ego would come up with.
For example, recently I had just finished reading Stephen King's highly recommended book On Writing. My brain felt very much in tune with him, so I laid down on the sofa and let my mind drift for a short period. During that time I thought of no fewer than three brilliant novel ideas, each in the horror genre, despite the fact that I' never considered writing horror novels before! You can do the same with an author who writes the kind of books you aspire to write.
You - The best ideas begin with none other than yourself. There are various ways in which you can think of ideas in this way so let's take a look at each in turn:
- What Are You Good At? We all have unique skills and talents so write a list of twenty of yours. They can stretch right back to when you were a child, all the way up until the here and now. Try not to strain your brain too hard and do include smaller talents too. For example, maybe you're really good at listening to people, or helping friends in need. They all count towards your list!
- Your Past Experiences. What's happened to you throughout your life which is particularly interesting/funny or even scary? All our experiences, no matter how much they hurt at the time, can be used as ammunition for book ideas. In fact many of the bestselling books are about people's real life experiences. Some choose to write these as non-fiction books whereas others take these experiences and wrap them into a fictional storyline. Both ways work just as well. Examples of this method of finding ideas include if you have suffered from a particular illness, you've overcome a big challenge or you have succeeded at something others would find impossible. Try working backwards through your life from the present day to as far back as you can remember.
- Your Knowledge. At school, what subjects did you shine at? What jobs have you held in the past, full and part time? What are your hobbies? Do you like horse riding? Yoga training? Cross stitch? Write another list encompassing all of the above.
- What Do You Enjoy Most In Life? Your true passions are great to write about as you'll enjoy the process much more than writing about subjects you're not so fond of. Jamie Oliver loves cooking and he has written a number of books, sharing his recipes with the world. What love could you share with the world? Do you adore travelling, fashion, beauty, mechanics? Whatever you like rest assured that millions of others will love it too! Consider also the current trends. You can get an idea of these by using Google Trends, or by reading newspapers and the daily news headlines on Yahoo and other news services. If you feel that a particular trend would be old news before your book is released then write about old favourites like weight-loss, money and sex. Sex always sells. If you can incorporate a fresh twist on these topics, then you'll be on to a winner!
- Your Challenges. At the time challenges in life never feel like opportunities. But they are the biggest ones that exist! What have you overcome or learnt that you could share with other people? Knowing that you are helping others via your books is an enlightening experience. List as many challenges you have faced in your life as you can possibly think of. The bigger and more terrifying at the time, the better! If you can't think of any of your own then list the challenges of friends and relatives.
There! Lots of seeds have already been sown. Now they need some food and water, better known as love and attention, which we'll explore next time!
Love & Light
The Word Queen xxx