Author interviews almost always include the question: Where do you get your ideas?

I’m currently contemplating that very thing. The first half of my idea for THE SEEDKEEPER’S SECRET – basically the inciting incident – popped into my brain one day during a random stream of consciousness about story ideas for kids. The second half of the idea gelled about six months later when something I saw on the news really captured my imagination. (No spoilers here!)

Then I sat with it, steeping in my brain for another year or so. I’d spend some think-time with it now and again, and I liked it more and more as time passed.

Then I went for it. I started plotting, started writing.

So now that I’m done and it has left the nest, I’m ready for another story. This time, though, I’m ready to start writing straight away. That means shortening the timescale by reducing the steep-time. I’m left with the following conundrum: how do you know which idea is worth pursuing? Which idea will make you fall deeper in love as you work for the next year? Which idea will you connect with so firmly that your faith in it will stay strong even through critique and rejection?

I’m flat-out not sure. So here’s my plan: I’m going to try out several ideas – write complete synopses for each, test them out a bit, and then choose the strongest.

But without the year-long steep-test, it feels like walking the high-wire without a net.


7 thoughts on “Ideas

  1. Try starting with one that feels right (women’s intuition is almost always accurate…which is probably why we’re dubbed more “irrational” and “unstable” than men) then just keep writing as if you were coming up with some free verse poem, or some impromptu speech. That way ideas go directly from brain to hand to pen to paper, instead of from brain to remaining in the brain before going to the hand, the pen, and the paper. Worked for me, at least.

    • Thanks Nicole – I might just try that…but I’m a plotter and an outliner, so it feels very whacky to just dive in and start writing without knowing where I’m going! But now is the time to experiment, for sure. While I was writing my first, I had one scene that just wasn’t working for me – and I just kept writing and let the characters sort it out. It worked amazingly well. I suspect writing without an outline is a lot like that. Much more magical!

      • I do a kind of a speed-dating thing. I write the first 5-6 pages (in first person regardless of what narrative voice I will use later) working my way down my short-list of possible next books until I get to the one that won’t let me leave…

      • Hi Kathleen! Lovely idea! Thanks very much for sharing it. I totally love how poetic everyone is about this mysterious process.

  2. Ideas come from everywhere! I snatch them and hold them prisoner on the backs of receipts and in scribbles on junk mail envelopes. In due time, I stretch them into (badly written? maybe…) stories.

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