What’s the Big Idea?

Lightning over the outskirts of Oradea, Romani...
Image via Wikipedia

It seems the trick with finding ideas is a combination of observation and curiosity.

E.L. Doctorow said he was searching for a new topic and found himself staring out the window at the building next door. He started to wonder about all the events that had occurred since the bricks in the wall were made. That was the genesis of Ragtime, starting out as the life story of a brick.

I rarely want for ideas. For me, ideas are everywhere, scattered, dormant, laying in wait. My problem is finding the impetus to act on one. Too many ideas can be stifling because it’s often hard to choose which one to give legs and a voice to.  It helps when a character or personality attaches itself to the idea, but that’s not always necessary.  Sometimes one simple idea is strong enough on its own. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson are two examples where the character was the idea.

Once I select something to write about, I can get stuck because what seemed like a great idea at the beginning, somehow turns into a slog, taking more time and grit than I first anticipated. Remembering what generated the original curiosity can be the touchstone that gives me the energy to bring the idea to a conclusion, hopefully fit for a reader’s enjoyment. 

As writers we all live for that magic moment when an idea transforms itself into a story with as little effort as pulling on a thread or merely marveling at a speck of dust floating in the collective consciousness that was waiting just for you to notice it. So when you’re searching for something to write about, look around, pick out an object and ask yourself, “I wonder ________,” then fill in the blank. It could be the next big idea waiting around for your unique spin.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
About Rose Gonsoulin

Rose Gonsoulin lives in the Sonoran desert with Chloe, Lucy and The Weasel. Like the poet, Wallace Stevens, she has spent the better part of her career in the Surety industry. Her first novel, Outside The Men’s Room, is available from Amazon. She is currently working on her second novel and a collection of short stories.