Writing Ideas and Themes

Where do you find your next great idea for a story? What theme do you match it with?

Alot of people (myself included) wonder about where writers get their ideas. When faced with the question, many writers go blank for a second or two, shrug and say, “they just come to me…” or “I hear or see something that triggers them…”. Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, when writers are in the zone and when they’re not. Some lucky writers have an idea bank, which they can draw from whenever they have a need. This “bank” can be mental or, if anything like me, the ideas are written down somewhere and kept for a rainy day (read “writer’s block”).

I often get great ideas when I’m in the shower or on the loo (excellent thinking places). Once I had a perfect ending for a story on the way to the store to buy milk and with nothing on my person but a few coins. I repeated the lines over to  myself all the way to the store and home again, dumped the milk on the table and rushed to the nearest notebook and pen.

Another time, I wrote a whole short story while sitting in a school meeting letting talk of school uniforms float around me like an annoying mist. I looked like I was diligently taking notes when I was scribbling down the story as fast as I could and forcing myself to stay seated instead of jumping up with an excited, “AH HAH!!”.

Heady days indeed.

Lately, ideas have been few and far between. I’m hoping that’s only because my brain is filled with work and study, and needs to concentrate on those for a bit….

Themes are another thing altogether. They come from hard graft – sitting down and working out where the idea best fits and who/what to match it with. I love this part of the writing process and will happily spend hours figuring things out. Joining the idea and theme, and then mapping it all out; pulling in a few possible characters, finding a setting, planning how/when/where to research.

The theme can be anything really and often depends on the bent of the writer’s mind: what they are attracted to in a story. Ie: making a statement or stand on an issue, twisted crime plots, hot and heavy romance, character development, historical periods, etc and so forth. They may appear on demand once the idea has formed or it may happen in reverse, or, the writer might have two separate items that need to be linked.

Whichever method is used, I have noticed that if I’m rubbing my hands together in glee or jumping up and down with excitement, I’ve hit a winner and, at last, it’s time to sit down and write!



Add yours →

  1. blackwatertown 03/09/2010 — 10:28 am

    I like the idea of you frantically scribbling down your story during a school meeting.

  2. OMG!! school meetings are so very exciting!!

    Though i do like the vision of you jumping up with an excited “AH HAH!!”.
    would be ever so funny!!!!

    • Trish Anders 10/09/2010 — 5:20 am

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to imagine me having an “ah hah” moment in a school meeting.

      Thankfully (or maybe not so), school meetings are a thing of the past. I started writing a new story the other day while at work – doesn’t have the right atmosphere though – phones ring, emails arrive, bosses demand attention….


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