Where Do Ideas Come From?

Recently, I was lucky enough to speak to some middle school students about writing (specifically High Tech Middle Media Arts). The experience was exhilarating. The kids really knew their stuff, asking a ton of good questions. Then one came up that I hadn’t considered: Where do your ideas come from? Sensible query, especially from a kid’s point of view. After all, they are required, by force of curriculum, to generate creative ideas on the spot.

My answer in class was a knee jerk reaction. Given some time to think, I’ve come up with a laundry list of places that ideas come from. Mostly it’s a set of connections. One thing relates to another and then bang. Idea. I’ve started a book based on the results of a presidential election. (Not even a political thriller. The book was about monsters.) Another idea came from a Poly Sci class in High School. One of my best ideas sprang up while watching an episode of Scooby Doo.

Mostly the idea of a story starts as a “what if” scenario. I find a detail from some article or snippet of a commercial and then think, what would happen if…? You need to give your mind time to daydream, otherwise the ideas (the good ones at least) won’t come.

So where do your ideas come from?

Tim Kane

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5 comments on “Where Do Ideas Come From?

  1. Funny, I just came from a blog at Ramblings called ‘What’s in a dream?’ and told her that most of my story ideas come from dreams. Whether they occur in the daytime or night time, my dreams are crucial to initiate story ideas. 🙂

    And you’re right about the ‘what if…’ aspect. Some shows will spark that imagination, especially if I’m unsatisfied with the story line (which is actually how I got started writing in the first place!) If something bothers me enough, my dreams will actually help me resolve those conflicts – and then I write it down. 🙂

  2. If I had to answer that question in one word it would be “curiousity”. It’s what makes us see past the surface, or beyond the ordinary and ask “what if?”

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