Thursday, August 25, 2011

Growing an Idea from a Title or Topic

Week of August 21—Strategies for Finding Ideas for Writing
Thursday, August 25—Growing an Idea from a Title or Topic

I’m sure it is apparent by now that I am a writing nerd! So it should come as no surprise that I am always on the lookout for writing ideas, topics, and inspiration. One of my more unusual writing habits involves my addiction to magazines. I love flipping through magazines looking for article titles, advertisement headings, names of recipes, and more. I jot down what I find and add it to my writer’s notebook. (I admit, I do more magazine browsing than buying. So I always have a tablet or notepad nearby.)

Some of my favorite sources are:
·        Women’s magazines
·        Cookbooks and cooking magazines
·        Craft magazines and books
·        Cake decorating books and magazines
·        Children’s magazines

As you are getting up from falling on the floor with laughter, let me say I’ve written an entire story with characters named after chicken recipes, I used the name of a decorated cake to create a setting for a story, and I found interesting verbs in a knitting how-to book that brought a story to life.

The first step in this process is to list what you find. A chart like the one below will help. Write down the titles that pop out at you. Write notes about any photographs or illustrations that catch your eye. And be tuned into what’s going on in your brain. Often when you’re thinking about something random, another good idea will pop into your head. Jot everything down.

Picture Book Ideas from Titles

Ideas from Titles
Ideas from Photos and Images
Random Ideas that Popped Into My Head

I choose one idea from my chart and I begin to flesh out my story. Everyone does this differently. I recently developed a Picture Book Graphic Organizer to share with my critique group. Once you’ve discovered a title and topic you're interested in, try out the graphic organizer to see if it propels your idea down the road to story-dom.

It’s Your Turn!
1. So what are you waiting for? Go search for those titles that can inspire a story!


Anonymous said...

Great graphic organizer for pb's!
Thanks for sharing!
~Tina Cho

Rob Sanders said...

You're welcome, Tina! Let me know how the graphic organizer works for you.

Rob S.

Corey Schwartz said...

OMG, I want to hear more about the chicken recipe characters. Le me guess.. Fricassee? Hilarious!

Books for Little Hands said...

Love the chicken recipe characters! I believe as writers nothing is off limit. I read many parenting magazines, newspapers, book reviews, anything and everything really. Rob, you so need to write a book about writing a picture book. You always have so many great posts! Thanks for the inspiration!

Christie Wright Wild said...

Great post, Rob! I can see this as a great tool to use for pb STUDIES, too! Thanks!

Rob Sanders said...

Woo-whoo! Glad you all found this helpful! I outlined three books after developing this sheet One of the drafted stories is now with my agent. So it works!