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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Where do Ideas come from?

Where do Ideas come from?

For me, my ideas usually come in the form of a title.

My first book, Putting the World to Sleep began as simply a phrase. A phrase I played with over and over again in my writing book until it felt done. Good Night, Good Knight was also just a a title first, before the story eventually revealed itself. (Yeah, I know, the first books dealt with trying to get to sleep....a huge issue in my life at the time, as a mommy of preschoolers).


Time goes so fast.

Still, sometimes, a title will come, begging to be written. But now, often, an Idea comes in the form of a premise. Like, for example, a tantrum that is contagious or a dungeon that exists under a school. I have a premise, but no title or characters. The title and characters come only after lots of failed attempts.....lots of tinkering......lots of playing around in the writing book. But there is already a center, an essence of the book........

Occasionally, I'll get an idea in the form of a character. This is the hardest for me. The character just kind of shows up in the old imagination (or on a page of the writing book) but it takes a lot of effort to extract the story from him or her. An example of this is one of my current projects, Chicken Wizard. Okay, so, it's a chicken that is a cool is that? Well, it would be cool if he would tell me his story!! But instead, he just lies flatly on the page, doing nothing but looking dapper in his yellow feathers and wizard had......I think he has a wand, too. And there's an egg of destiny he has to do something with.....but right now, he is not feeling very divulging. He is sitting there with his beak closed tight.

Wish I had a wand.....


Carrie Harris said...

Basic concepts come first for me, and titles almost always come last. Actually, I'm title impaired.

Don't tell anyone, okay? :)

storyqueen said...

No way....I am gonna tell EVERYONE! Muahahahahahah.

(Yeah, so I'm a little tired this morning...)

Stephanie Perkins said...

What a fascinating post!! I love to see how other writer's brains work.

(Mine, apparently, works the exact opposite of yours!)

Like Carrie, titles for me are HARD, the absolute last part of the process. And they always come with the aid of several people much more title-savvy than myself!

My characters always come first, and they're usually fully formed when they arrive. Plotting is difficult for me, so I try to pull it out organically from the characters. (What would be happening in this person's life to make them be this way?)

And I can't WAIT to meet Chicken Wizard, which is pretty much the greatest thing I've heard all week :)

storyqueen said...


How can you say that you aren't good at titles when you came up with the whole English-American-French-Boy-Masterpiece thins? (Did I get the order wrong...sorry)

Anyway, I'd buy the book on the title alone.



Richard Jesse Watson said...

Time does go by fast. It seems to go by faster each year. Soooo, when we were just born, it must have been almost infinitely slow and timeless, and when we are at the end of this journey, it will go by so fast as to be almost timeless on the other end of the spectrum. I think I would take Chicken Wizard's egg and throw it, just to see what happens.

Stephanie Perkins said...

Thank you!! Oh goodness, that compliment means so much to me. I really, truly do struggle with titles. My original was DREADFUL. Multiple readers said, "Um, Steph. Not to freak you out, but you might want to reconsider the title. It's [whisper] boring."

I'm not sure if I'll be allowed to keep it (one of the interested editors wanted to change it, but the one I'll actually be working with hasn't mentioned it. . . yet), but I hope so! I'm fond of it too :)

Joe Iriarte said...

I usually get premises first, then characters, and titles happen along serendipitously if I'm lucky.

I think it's a problem, because my protagonist can become just a generic person to stick into that premise. But knowing is half the battle, neh?