Writing Excuses 10.1: Seriously, Where Do You Get Your Ideas?
Season 10 begins!
We wanted to do something different this year. Something special. As we brainstormed we kept returning to something a listener said years ago: “Writing Excuses is like a master class in writing genre fiction.”
That’s a generous remark, as anyone who’s taken an actual master class can attest, but it inspired us to ask ourselves what Writing Excuses would
look sound like if it were formatted like an actual master class.
The answer? It would sound like Season 10 is going to sound. This year we’re going to go to school! Each month will focus on a specific bit of the writing process, and each podcast will drill down on one of those bits. We’ll still have some “wildcard” episodes with guests, but for at least three weeks out of each month we’re going to stay on topic. If you’re new to the podcast, this is where to start! If you’re an old hand, don’t worry — this isn’t a return to the 101-level stuff.
In January we’ll cover the very beginning — coming up with cool ideas, and wrapping them up into something that we can turn into a story. And for this first episode we’ll answer the dreaded “where do you get your ideas” question quite seriously. We’re not going to tell you about the Idea Factory in Schenectady (Harlan Ellison’s stock answer,) nor are we going to eye-roll. Nope. We’re going to tell you how we get our brains to think stuff up, and then we’re going to give you homework in the writing prompt.
We’ve talked about ideas before, of course, so here are some links:
- 4.11: Brainstorming from News Headlines
- 4.18: How to Steal for Fun and Profit
- 6.21: Brainstorming from Story Seeds
- 7.27: The Problem of Originality
- “Twitter is the garden of low-hanging fruit.”
Write down five different story ideas in 150 words or less. Generate these ideas from these five sources:
- From an interview or conversation you’ve had
- From research you’ve done (reading science news, military history, etc)
- From observation (go for a walk!)
- From a piece of media (watch a movie)
- From a piece of music (with or without lyrics)
Homework: This exercise might not generate the very best ideas you’ve ever had, but it will definitely flex your idea muscles in new ways.
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