February 14, 2017

The Birth of a Story Idea...or a Two-Headed Dragon

Victoria in one of her creative moments.
If you write, someone has probably asked you this question:

"Where do you get your ideas from?"

The number of possible answers to this question probably exceeds the number of people writing stories. Ideas develop from several common sources, but how they transfer into a story idea, for me at least, is almost impossible to map.

Take this recent conversation I had with my granddaughter as an example:

Victoria:  Did you know lizards can lose their tails?
Me: I think I knew it, but then it might be because you've been talking about it.
Victoria: I saw a video of a dog chasing a lizard. He tried to bite its tail, and the lizard dropped its tail and ran away.  (She giggled) The tail was wriggling.
Me: Chickens do that.
Victoria: Huh?
Me:  When you chop off a chicken's head, its body will keep running around. That's why they say "running around like a chicken with its head chopped off."
Victoria: The dog didn't chase the lizard because it was barking at the tail.
Me: That's its protection mechanism. God made it able to drop its tail and get away while the tail wriggles and distracts the predator.
Victoria:  The lizard grows back its tail. Wouldn't it be cool if we could do that like lizards or starfish or an octopus?
Me: Yeah, that would be neat.
Victoria: One thing you can't grow back though is a head. If they cut off the head, you're dead.
Me: Yep.
Victoria: Unless you're a dragon in a movie and you cut off the head and two grow back. Then you cut off those heads and three grow back, then four, then five.  What if it grew a thousand heads back?
Me:  (laughing) That would be crazy.
Victoria:  (sitting straight up with her arms by her side and neck stretched upward) It wouldn't be able to move if it had a thousand heads. All the necks would get in the way.

Do you see the strange paths this conversation took? That's how a story idea happens. You start with something and then your mind goes off on slightly related tangents that lead to more tangents and more until you have something completely different...like a dragon with 1000 heads.

Next question?

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