I attended a writing conference today at a university near my home. Dan Wells was the keynote speaker; author of I Am Not a Serial Killer; Mr. Monster; I Don't Want To Kill You; and to-be-released in 2012, Partials.
He spoke about how authors get their ideas. Dan said, "It's not about ideas, it's about turning ideas into stories."
I'm going to let you in on his secret to getting ideas—all the time! You need to Pay Attention!
Simple, right? Right! Anything, even the ring on your finger or a piece of peppermint candy can inspire you. Look everywhere for your ideas, if it be on the History channel, a dog barking outside, or the bowl of soup I'm eating even though it's getting too cold.
Dan taught us to take something normal and combine it with something strange to develop it into an idea for a story.
For example: a pocket watch and a crazed chicken.
Here's what I came up with:
A teenage farm boy finds an old pocket watch in pristine condition under his bedroom floor boards. When he picks it up, he hears it ticking; no, clucking loudly. He stuffs it in his pocket thinking its cool. As he works on the farm the next day, the chickens appear to be going crazy, practically biting each others heads off. And they are growing bigger at an alarming rate. He takes his family to hide, fearing they will be killed. Over the next months, the world is taken over by these huge chickens. No longer is chicken the poultry of choice, but humans are. It's not until the boy realizes the pocket watch was the catalyst for the chickens dominating the world that he destroys the watch. The chickens die instantly, leaving the world free from their reign of terror.
Now, it's your turn to practice. Comment with an idea using the example above. Let's see what awesome ideas spring to mind.