Last time we talked about ideas, and how we might work a spark into an idea, into a story.
Today, let’s talk some more about sparks.
The spark, if you recall, is what we called that tiny seed, too small to even call an idea. But with some care we can sprout it into an idea that we can work into a story. In our last discussion, the spark was a single image. Asking questions about that image helped to develop our story idea.
But what we didn’t discuss was where that spark came from. You’ve got to have something to start with, no matter how small.
Sparks can come from anywhere. In the last post I wanted an example, something intriguing, that would be good to further the discussion. So I thought about it for a few minutes and that’s what I came up with. Sometimes that will happen.
But if it doesn’t, it’s important to remember that the world around you is rife with sparks. You may find sparks in things other people assign no importance to. The crucial thing is to be prepared to catch them. To push our analogy, any spark will fizzle and die if it isn’t caught and nurtured into a flame.
How do you catch them? Here you have lots of options. I always have a small memo-size notebook in my purse, and it’s handy to grab and jot notes in while I’m out. You can also keep one on your nightstand in case you find something in a dream that feels like story fodder.
Most cellular phones these days have features that can be used for this. You can use an application to write yourself a quick note, or send yourself an email with your thoughts.
Some people prefer to speak their thoughts. I’ve known people who carried microcassette recorders, or their newer flash-memory-based equivalents, to catch these types of ideas. You could even call your home phone and leave yourself a message!
The important thing is to make yourself a note of what caught your attention, and come back to it later when you’re ready to ask questions. A particular bit of overheard dialog, a peculiar piece of action seen from afar–any number of ordinary things can spark an idea. All you have to do is make sure you are prepared to catch them when they fly.