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    Home Columns

    Here an Idea, There an Idea

    As writers, we have to learn to pay attention to the details of life. That is what we're going to talk to you about this time.

    If you are looking for ideas for a story, simply look at your surroundings. Don't try to look for big things, but actually focus on the details. For example, sitting on the couch in your living room you may come across some framed awards on the wall that you've received. You could write a story on how hard you worked to earn those awards. Or say you were sitting in the bathtub and you noticed the toy sailboats that your brother or sister plays with. You could write a story about a storm at sea and those sailboats could be in it. You could even do what I did. I wrote a story called The Sick Trees. I got the idea by looking at the baby trees in my front yard and thinking about autumn. Another time, I thought about two lamps that were beside each other. One was smaller than the other. I developed a story about a mother lamp and a child lamp. Ideas are all around you.

    Another thing you have to think about is you don't have to make it based on real life. For example, in my story about the lamps, they could talk, walk, and a number of things that real lamps couldn't do. In my story The Sick Trees, the trees could walk and talk. We as writers can take the simple things in life and turn them into amazing objects.

    Many writers often complain of having nothing to write about. However, that should never be an excuse for you. Think about your life - just because it may seem boring doesn't mean it really is. How often have others said they wish they had your life? If you've heard it, chances are, your life must have plenty of ideas that you aren't paying attention to.


    Sports

    Are you in any sort of sport, like football, soccer, or baseball? Have you ever seen someone cheat? What about someone who was so good others were jealous? Are you the star of your team? All of these as well as other observations you might have made can be used in everything from A-deserving essays in school to stories worthy of publication.


    School

    Many things happen at school every day. Are you paying attention to how your classmates act in class? What about how a school day can be so different when you have a substitute teacher? All the things you observe at school could be turned into news items for your own school newsletter. Even if your school doesn't publish a newsletter, maybe you could. Talk with your teacher or principal.


    Your neighborhood

    There are many things going on in your neighborhood. Are you paying attention? Do you have one neighbor who never leaves their home? What about one where you always hear him singing? There are all kinds of things you could write about to bring these little things into full-fledged stories. Plus, if you know of someone special in your neighborhood, you could write an essay on them, or even interview them for your local paper!


    Books

    Believe it or not, many writers get ideas from other books. This is not to say it is okay to steal the ideas of other books. Actually, many writers report that an idea came to them when the book didn't turn out like their mind predicted it would. Take a look at the books you've read. Are there any that ended so badly, you could have done better? Go with that and create your own beginning and middle and then add the end you thought the book should have had. Often times, writers find that well-written books also inspire them with ideas, even if they have nothing to do with what is written.


    News

    If you ever watch the evening news, you'll see there's a lot going on out in the world. The news is one of the biggest idea generators for writers all over. Most often, we only see bad things, but those stories can be turned into either articles to make the world better, or fiction stories on how you would work out these problems and give them happy endings. Plus, when the news offers the good things, like information that someone earned awards, you can look into your own life and see if you know someone like whom they have featured. The news offers a ton of ideas so keep a notebook and pen handy when watching.


    Ideas are everywhere and when you begin to take notice of all the places you can find them, you'll realize that having nothing to write about will be a thing of the past. Carry that notebook with you always so that you have no reason not to jot down ideas as they come to you for later stories.

    [* Note - The *I* in this article refers to Scott who wrote and contributed more on this month's article than Angela.]

    Copyright © 2001 Angela Giles Klocke and Scott D. Warren

    Scott is Angela's teenage son. He has won several various writing awards. He maintains a straight-A average and when not doing schoolwork, he can be found with either a book or his AlphaSmart. Scott constantly dreams up new stories and shares them with his family as well as seeks publication. He has been published in Rainy Day Corner as well as a newspaper in Florida, The Williston Pioneer.

    Angela has been writing since she was a child herself. Her passion for helping other young writers is what has led her to co-authoring this column with her own young writer, Scott. One of Angela's earliest works, a poem, was finally published when she was 18, though it was written at age 11.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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