Monday, April 11, 2011

"I" Is For Imagination

I love when people ask where my ideas come from.  On occasion, I can give a direct answer.  Certain scenes were sparked from experience.  Others derive from observation.  But, despite my W.I.P. being a realistic novel based on contemporary issues, the bulk of my characters and plot have evolved strictly from the thoughts in my head.  And normally, I can't explain how.

I always considered myself to have an overactive imagination.  In school, I was frequently caught daydreaming.  I wasn't trying to be rude; the events in my brain were just far more exciting than the events in the classroom.  Yet another reason creativity should be an integral part of public education.

As a teacher, imagination let me bring lessons to life.  I wasn't content lecturing or having kids complete worksheets.  My goal was to bring the topic alive and have students learn through all five senses.  Music, food, costumes, and props were often incorporated. 

My job connected me with the creative process on a deeper level than anything prior.  Today, I realize this contributed to my writing developments, even though writing was not on my mind at that point.  Both endeavors train the brain in similar ways, as we are all forced to engage an audience and hold their interest for an extended period of time.  The key to doing so lies in the imagination.

Where do your story ideas come from?


  1. My ideas are so random and come from all over that there's no way I could give a definitive answer for this one. For example, I got a great idea for a dystopian the other day off the license plate of the car in front of me. Seriously, ideas can come from anything.

  2. The kids I work with usually inspire me with new ideas.

  3. I think some people jut have the ability to take an idea and run with it. Whether this originates from personal experience, observation, or seemingly random observations (such as Jamie's licence plate!) it is a gift to be able to develop an idea or even just a new thought from an otherwise unremarkable stimulus.

    I think I'm similar to you Paul in the way that my WIP is generally inspired by events I lived through or observed, but that the bulk of the action grew organically from my own imagination once the framework was in place. That said, there are certain parts that I couldn't help but lift straight from real life. It's the fusing of reality and imagination that has been the most enjoyable for me.

  4. I always say something like this: Ideas don't come from us, they come through us. But I usually try to be even more cryptic than that, if possible.

  5. Most of my ideas come from daydreams too. Sometimes it's also seeing something ( a guy in a truck) or an answer to a "What if?" question. Also cool pic of the tree-face.

  6. Jamie - that's such a great example! I have gotten ideas in the most random places as well, but not nearly as clever as a license plate. I did pull something clever from a television commercial though. I was pretty proud of that!

    K. - Kids work wonders on the imagination.

    Luke - It's true. The subject matter created itself from newspaper articles and media clips. Once the foundation was set, the imagination developed the story and created the characters. It's actually a very nice partnership that was created.

    Matt - Well said! I believe that; when I sit down and try to come up with an idea, I'm lucky if I get something mediocre out of the deal. I've often thought the ideas are formed and they seek out a person to complete the task at hand.

    Nia - I've read a number of interviews where authors write an entire book from a ten second glimpse of something they stumbled upon. Patty McCormick said MY BROTHER'S KEEPER evolved from five seconds of eye contact with a boy doing community service on the side of the road. The two of them never spoke, but she used that image to create a story as to how he arrived at that moment. Impressive - I need a bit more most days.

  7. I don't know where ideas come from, but I think most people get them, sometimes in dribs and drabs, sometimes almost fully formed. The tricky part is remembering them, bringing them together and then shaping them into something other people would find interesting.

  8. It is wonderful that you share imagination with your students. Brain-based research shows that creating a being-there experience for students is far more benefician than worksheets and lectures.
    I see you have your Masters in Spec. Ed. I am most impressed. My youngest son is a special ed student. Kuddos to you!

  9. I like to take walks with my iPod and just walk aimlessly around the city for hours... it's when most of my ideas come. Although I'm really surprised I haven't been hit by a car yet... I tend to daydream then, and rarely pay attention to red lights.

  10. Imagination is the most wonderful thing in the world.

  11. There's an old song called imagination... imagination is funny, it makes a cloudy day sunny.. da da . I'm glad it works so well you you.

  12. I would've loved having you as a teacher, as my kids would've too. Hello from a fellow writer of YA, as yet unpublished. Good luck on your WIP. I'm wrapping up a first draft of a second YA MS, and I don't know, maybe my 8th or 9th ms in all, over the years.


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