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