Another Idea!

I went to a workshop today on writing crime fiction at my local Writer’s Centre.  Why crime fiction, I hear you ask, when I’m a fantasy writer?  I was curious about how authors in another genre go about building their stories, and was looking for some fresh approaches I could apply to my own work in progress.  I find this stops me from getting stale and I encourage other writers to explore outside your genre to build your craft. 

The result was surprising and exciting.  While the exercises given were similar to what I give myself when I’m planning a fantasy work, I fleshed out an idea I’ve had for a historical courtroom novel!  I thought I would really struggle, not being a crime writer myself and not knowing anything about writing it, but as is often the case, things flowed when I put pen to page and applied myself.  Now I’ve got at least one worthwhile idea I can move on to if my current manuscript doesn’t get picked up by a publisher. 

Nothing like a succession plan!

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The Ideas Bag

I blogged here about getting ideas, and how I’m not someone who has a drawer full of them waiting for me to pick them for my next masterpiece.  However, this probably needs revising.

The beauty of writing is that the more you write, the more you see ideas around you.  I have found in the last few weeks or so I’ve come up with a number of ideas!  Perhaps it’s because I can see the end in sight with my current project, or perhaps I’m just dreading finishing it.  Either way, I have some possibilities for the next project.

The disappointing thing is, not many of them are in the fantasy genre.  They’re all history or crime or a mixture of both.  What does that mean?  Probably that I’m reading too many history and crime books!

J-A’s Writing Process – Step 1 – The Idea

I have a confession to make – I’m not an ideas person.  I’m not one of these super-creative people who have ‘light bulb moments’ when an innovative idea comes to mind out of the blue and fills me with inspiration and passion.  That’s why I don’t writing science fiction – I don’t have any idea what the future will look like until someone tells me. 

So when someone asked me ‘how do you get ideas’, I had to really think.  The answer for me is that over time, I get a small collection of things I’m interested in, and then when I need an idea, I sit down and play around something off that list.  This is why a notebook is important.  Because it’s hard for me to come up with ideas, I need to note where I’ve had an interesting thought and then I can maybe use my knowledge of the writing craft to drag an idea out of it.

Examples of where I get these ‘pre-ideas’ from are:

  • dreams
  • a place I’ve been to
  • emotional intrigues in something I’ve read in a newspaper or seen on the news
  • interesting jobs or settings from history I’m reading about

Anyhow, you get the picture.  Then I sit down and work out what characters in these scenarios might be like, what fantasy setting I can apply to it and what kind of conflict might happen in it. 

Alas, no light bulb goes off and sometimes it can take ages to pull it all out.  Perhaps that’s why I write fantasy, so I only have to go through this idea generation thing every 3 books (provided one sells!).

If anyone else has ideas of how to get ideas, would love to hear about them.