Tag Archives: Imagination

Where Do Ideas Come From?

To write a story, you must first have an idea—a kernel of imagination that blooms from something simple into a whole tale. The real work, of course, comes after the idea, because ideas are abundant in most writers’ minds.

But where do they come from?

I’ve always found it fascinating to hear how other writers form ideas for their stories. Like learning styles, ideas are unique to their bearer; they can come from a visual source, a written source, or even an auditory one. Some will find them in the natural scenes around them, whether it be during a leisurely stroll or standing in the grocery store checkout lane. Others will discover them in the speech of friends, family, or children. A few will lock themselves in a room, letting the quiet that surrounds them swarm their thoughts until nothing becomes something and they’re typing away on the computer. I’ve known some to do random associations, picking words off a page and stringing them together in a theme for their next work. Still others are veritable idea machines, as if a running scroll of them simply churns through their minds.

Sometimes, ideas are past experiences, tweaked just enough to add some creative flair. Others are tales of what could have been instead of what really was. No matter what, though, each writer has his or her own way to light that clever spark and create a story from it.

While my ideas come to me in a variety of ways, I’ve noticed two methods are the most prevalent. The first is through dreams. I’ve been blessed (and sometimes cursed) with extremely vivid dreams for the majority of my life; often they are fantastical in nature and come to me in full color, and fortunately I am able to remember them upon waking. If they aren’t nightmares (that would be the cursed part), they usually provide me with images of creatures or scenes that I am inclined to jot down and save for a later piece.

More common, however, is the method I refer to as the “one liner.” It sparks from something I see or hear around me, a line that forms in my head that will not, for the life of me, go away. Each time it is one single line, whether it be a reaction to what I see, a sentence that will later serve as dialogue, or a clause of imagery. I’ll carry this line with me wherever I’m at—even if it means repeating it to myself the entirety of a gym workout—until I can get in front of a piece of paper or computer. There, I’ll write that one line and run wild with it. This method is the one that’s been the most effective, for me, something that comes blindly out of the air and smacks me with a whole run of a tale.

We all have ideas that we like to use in our writing, and usually we’ve been carrying around a bounty of them over the years. I’m sure there’s some scientific explanation for how people form them, but I’m curious—where do your ideas come from? Please share! 🙂

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What’s In a Name?

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

—From Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare

I’ve been editing my WIP, Kyresa, for the last time (and yes, I really mean it!). Since it is a fantasy book, it has a collection of unusual names, as do many of the books I read in the Fantasy and Sci-Fi genres. Add to that my plethora of friends with wildly interesting names, and I got to thinking—what’s in a name?

Parents often spend months coming up with a suitable list of names for their soon-to-be-born, one that will need to stick with the child as she grows up, takes on her own unique traits, and eventually becomes who and what she is as a person. So how is it that parents pick the perfect name?

And in a similar manner, how is it that we, as authors, pick our characters’ names?

We almost have an easier task, I think: we have a vision for a character, a set of traits, experiences, and journeys already in mind as we set about to write, and from this we can choose a name to match. Sometimes, we may already know the name in advance—and like the choosing of a baby name before parents know anything about their child, somehow, the name tends to fit. (And if it doesn’t, we can always change it later without the hassle of legal paperwork. Thank goodness!)

When I write, I usually have a vision of a character and then suddenly the name just comes out on paper. I really can’t explain how this happens—I see the character doing A, B, or C, and start typing, and then suddenly said character’s name is right there, typed in front of me. Usually, the name sticks. If nothing’s called to me immediately, the name will be a placeholder. I won’t lie—[the chick], [sassafras], and [what’s his face] have been used as temporary holds before. 🙂 Still, it’s generally pretty rare for me to not feel the rush of a suitable name. Even rarer is a name change—Kyresa actually underwent a slight change a year ago, requiring me to undo over a decade of pronouncing her name the old way as I talked about her character. That was tough. But tougher was finding a new name for a character I’d known so long. (Envision post-its with different spellings of names all over the house for a month and you’ve nailed the experience.)

Since I usually feel the name as I write, I suppose that explains how parents can look at their newborn and know the name they’ve chosen is the right one. So I’m curious—how do you pick names for your characters? Do you flip through baby books, or keep a catalog of names alphabetically? Do you sound out syllables until they match the feeling you have for the character? Or, do you simply drop them on the page like I do, changing them only if they conflict with your vision of the character?

Please feel free to share your methods in the comment section below. Whether it be for baby names or character names, how do you smell a rose? 🙂


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Don’t Just Do…Live!

Since I was a little girl I’ve been a storyteller, a writer, and a dreamer, always planning to one day be an *author*—that very person you imagine when you whisper the two melodic syllables aloud…but it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve honed my focus, and in the last year that it’s become even more to me: my soul, my heart, my love, and my passion.

So a few weeks ago, just after my first post (“The Journey”), I had an inspiring phone conversation with my mother. We discussed my freshly tuned writing focus, and like a breathless girl admitting her crush I told her my plans—Kyresa, the other books, the blog, the short stories, the networking, all of it. My mother listened patiently, and after a few proud mom compliments she said, in a dreamily soft voice, “Honey, you have it figured out now! You are no longer just doing…you are finally living.” I nearly burst into tears with her sweet words of encouragement, because I realized my mom was right.

Follow your dreams, and live them.

For the first time in my life, I feel like the stars I’ve always reached for are possible. The dreams I’ve always had are right there, at my fingertips, and I will no longer just do; I will live. I have never been more motivated. I have never been so happy and so fulfilled. I truly feel like I have realized what my life means to me, and that I am going to make all of my dreams happen by living this passion. My passion. Tough day, illness, heartache, bills—none of it matters anymore. I have a goal, a dream, and a wish, and it is to live this one life as thoroughly as I can by letting my fingers run across this keyboard as excitedly and quickly as my imagination dreams it, and as rapidly as my heart beats through it.

I have found my peace through writing. You, dear reader—you may be there already, or you may be on the path to finally reaching everything that you dream as well. Whatever the case, I encourage you to follow your heart, to unburden your soul, and to find that true passion within yourself to not just do…but live.

To finally live your fantasy.


The Imaginations of Children

This past weekend I saw my niece—also known as the Most Adorable Niecey on the Planet—and she spent a good amount of time being her charming, four-year-old self. Since my sister recently moved a few hours away, I often find myself missing the little munchkin for quite a while after I see her.

Today I happened to remember some of the exuberance my Niecey shared as she showed me her dolls, shoes, hair, and jewelry. She, like most children, has a vivid imagination, as well as a high-pitched zeal with which she loves to share her young, open-minded ideas. On any given day I can probably recount ten favorite memories, but today I thought I’d share just one.

About two months ago, the Most Adorable Niecey stayed overnight, and in the morning she tapped me gently on the shoulder. “Auntie Eva,” she whispered, “it’s time to wake up.” Groggy and somewhat delirious, I managed to wake—albeit slowly—as she explained that it was time to play Princess.

“Princess!” I said, rubbing my eyes. “How do we play that?”

“Well, I’m the Pink Princess,” she said, waving her hands in the air. “I have a pink dress, a pink crown, and a pink wand. I also have pink jewelry!” she squealed proudly, pointing at her bare (but remember, not really bare) fingers and wrist. “It’s time for you to get up, so you can be the Purple Princess.”

“Oh my!” I said. I propped myself up on the pillows. “How do I do that?”

“First, we have to put on your purple dress. Sit up.” I did, and she proceeded to simulate sliding the dress over my head. “Now for your purple crown and wand.” She placed the crown on my head and the wand in my hand, smiling proudly as she adjusted the way I held it. “You have to hold it this way for spells,” she whispered.

“Oh thank you,” I said. “What’s next?”

“Well of course you need purple jewelry. Hold out your other hand.” She slid the imaginary rings onto my finger and clasped a bracelet around my wrist. “I’ll give you your shoes when you get out of bed. Now come down here,” she said, wriggling to the floor and pointing at a two-by-two area on the carpet. “This is my pink castle. And over there is your purple castle. Hurry! You have to get there fast, the dragon is coming!”

“Ick!” I shrieked, jumping out of bed. I climbed over to the area she designated as my purple castle, and then she tossed over my purple shoes. (Yes, she actually simulated tossing over a pair of shoes.) “Do I have to stay here?” I asked.

“You can come over here,” she said, lifting a warning finger. “But you have to move very quickly, and you’re only safe if you wear the purple shoes. Put them on, fast, and come to the pink castle!”

Naturally, I did, and then scooted over to her castle. Clearly, it was the place to be!

We played for a while like this as she told me about all the creatures in the land (the dragon, some magical cats, an enchanted forest, even more glittering purple and pink jewelry!), and eventually my need for coffee won out. “Sweetheart,” I said, “I’m just so tired, I fear the dragon will catch me because I’m moving too slowly. I really need coffee.”

“Silly Auntie Eva, I can make you coffee here in the pink castle!” she laughed, whirling her hands around until she produced a cup of coffee. Not quite real enough for my taste, but I let it slide for another ten minutes until I convinced her Auntie Eva’s kitchen was a safe place away from evil dragons, and that eating pancakes would give her strength to fight them off.

It’s a silly story, true, but the way she weaved her imaginary world captivated me. Each time I see her, she has created some romantic tale of fantasy and magic, a world she wants to involve everyone in. It’s a gift that most children have in their early years, making our already interesting world so much more amazing, colorful, and even a little more magical.

For some scientific reason we tend to lose this ability as we get older, both in our loss of fantastical thinking and in our hesitation to express these ideas. It’s a shame, really—but also the reason so many of us turn eagerly to the wild creativity we see in books and movies, hoping, if only for 300 pages or two hours, we might recapture our ability to run free through someone else’s imaginative musings. These pieces capture us in a world we might otherwise not experience, letting us imagine that we, too, are still the Pink and Purple Princesses (and Princes) of our youth. Those memories may be buried deep within, but somewhere in your mind and heart you might remember these moments bringing a smile to your face…so don’t forget to let them out every once in a while to play.

*** A giant kiss to my adorable niecey V! ***


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