I’ve written a few times about inspiration. I guess it makes sense that it’s on my mind when I’m in the early stages of a new WIP. Lately, I’ve been inundated with inspiration. I’m like a hunter and gatherer…sniffing out possible prey on a gentle breeze, pouncing when the time is right, and storing the day’s reward away for safe keeping. Writing a new book is like planning for the unknown. You’d better have provisions for a variety of scenarios.
I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my latest (and in some cases odd-ball) research methods and inspired ideas. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll start to see wispy fragments of a story start to take shape in your mind. It’s the greatest joy of the creative process! The risk is getting stuck in this fun phase of possibility.
- Google/Library — I needed a name for the town’s doctor…something with roots to the area. So I Googled “Appalachian Surnames” and browsed history records until the right one hit me. This is more traditional research for facts that help make your story credible.
- Listening to Radio — I heard a song that totally spoke to how my heroine might be feeling…suddenly, she became a lover of classic rock music. (Tip: if you use your voice recording app while driving, be prepared to decipher your own notes!)
- Asked Around — I recently took to Facebook to ask followers of my author page to help me name the dog my heroine adopts along her hike. I couldn’t decide, and they had some great ideas emerged!
- Recycle — While outlining book two, I thumped a finger on my chin waiting for an idea to strike for a certain scenario. Then, BAM! I remembered an idea I had for the last book that ended up on the cutting room floor (and in my idea notebook). It’ll fit great in this story. Done and done!
- Be Aware at All Times — You never know when you will randomly run across something that stops you in your tracks and magically screams at you, “That’s my character!” Scrolling through Instagram a while back, I stumbled on a photo of a girl that instantly became inspiration for how my heroine looks in a final scene.
- Pay Attention to Detail and Document — I am one of those people often taken by nature. I’ve been known to step outside into my yard in the early morning or at dusk and just take in the details of a beautiful sunrise or sunset. As a writer who greatly values offering my readers rich setting/scenery, I have learned not to trust my own memory when writing something from nature. Instead, I snap lots of photos of anything I find inspiring — sunset, blade of grass with dew on it, the fur of my dog up close, the perfect foam on a latte, I’ve even been known to ask my husband if I can snap a picture of his eye ball super close up so I can refer to it when writing the description of a character’s eyes. You never know when you’ll need a subject to study for just the perfect description.
- Study the Experts — Of course, don’t copy. But I have lots of earmarks and flags sticking out of the pages of some of my favorite authors’ books marking passages that really spoke to me. Thick, memorable descriptions that drew me in to a scene. A paragraph that helped make a character 3-dimensional to me. I pull those out when I need help being inspired to do better.
Where do you find inspiration for ideas?
If you’re a writer, what’s the most unique way you collect ideas?
Tips for hunting and gathering ideas for your next book! — Tweet This
6 thoughts on “Hunting & Gathering Ideas”
Teresa, I love your hunting and gathering ideas. I’m not sure I am coordinated enough to use my voice app while driving, ha! However, the majority of my favorite books are highlighted with yellow marker. This is something I did long before I took writing seriously. Guess I’ve always been attracted to a good line.
Lara — those good lines stick with us a long time, don’t they! Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂
So neat to see how your ideas unfold, Teresa! And I’m smiling because we do the same thing with the radio and the notes on the phone! Your ideas are so great and it’s amazing how story inspiration can strike in a variety of ways. We never know where it’s going to come from next but the process is sure fun, isn’t it?
Thanks, Joanne. Yes, it is fun…keeps us on our toes, on the lookout. 🙂
Taking snapshots is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.