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  • Writer's pictureMegan DiMaria

How does a writer decide on an idea? Part Two

This is the second of a two-part topic. See part one here.

If you ask a seasoned writer, they’ll tell you that ideas are in the air.

Ideas are all around you. All you have to do is be observant. If you write fiction, look at the people around you, what quirks make you think, “What if . . . ?”

What about the man in the grocery store, racing with his clunky cart down the aisle as if he’s playing chicken with oncoming shoppers? Why is he in such a hurry? All it takes is a germ of an idea to settle into a writer’s brain before they’re off and dreaming.

Don’t despair if you see someone else chasing the same idea. No two writers will create the same story, and ideas are not copyrightable. Your execution of an idea is what makes it unique.

And what about non-fiction writers? From where does their inspiration come? The answer is the same, from life.

Be attentive to the people you come into contact with. Ask questions. For example, I once visited a library that had a display of Hopalong Cassidy memorabilia. I contacted the man who owned the display and requested an interview. By focusing on different aspects of his collection and his passion for Hopalong Cassidy lunch boxes and paperback books, I was able to tweak the material and sell the article to two different markets.

What thrills you lately? What annoys you lately? Both of those topics are fodder for an article, short story, or novel. Open your eyes, remove your earphones, breath in the fragrance of the season, and write what you sense.


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