Tuesday, August 24, 2010

IDEAS- A Picture Says...How Many Words?

One of the methods I find most helpful as I write is to be able to have images surround me. These images keep me focused on my characters, the setting and the plot. Currently, I'm back to revising one of my short stories. While I’m working, I find myself reflecting more and more on the picture that inspired the story in the first place.

The particular image for the story is an original design that I purchased at a local etsy-ish craft fair last year. The picture called-out to me. As I examined various pieces, the artist and I talked about his "inspirations" for them. But this one, the one I ultimately purchased, had a deeper story for me. Even as I left the fair, the story kept building and building. I had no choice but to write it down.

I'm sure that one of my earliest "games" led me to creating stories in this way. I love to people watch and create mall-inspired mini soap operas. I’ve been a “observer” for as long as I can remember. Again, it's the visual that leads me to the story. A young woman struggles to keep her eyes open as she pushes her toddler through the throngs of shoppers. Why did she come to the mall? Is this even her child? It's the curiousity of not knowing her back-story that fuels my desire to create one.

I can see how this is similar to the need of I had as a child to name my toys. I had to claim them as mine, and without any other descriptors and definitions of who or what they were, I provided them with that structure. I named them, elaborated where they came from, and told long-windies about what they did in their spare time. (By the way, if you have any doubts about their spare time, you should read the original Raggedy Ann stories.)

The only part of all this “using visuals to create” that bothers me is that I know so few students that do this anymore. It’s a thought to ponder on another day…until then, I’m going to continue to do what works for me and visuals are my key. Watching is my tool. Imagining is my technique and writing is the way I share.

What works for YOU? How do you get a story started? Where do your ideas come from?

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