Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The way We Are: That WIP Spark

Think back to when you got that very first spark of an idea that later became your Work in Progress (the one you're either drafting or editing right now). Maybe it was the way someone crinkled their eyebrows, or the way a branch grew out of a tree funny, or a movie trailer, or a picture that you saw. That first little interesting thing that stuck with you and kept you thinking about it, until it became that first idea of the thousands of ideas you'd need to write a book.

We're curious to know what that initial spark is! (And by "we," I mean me and everyone who reads the comments. No, I'm not feeling all multiple-personality this morning. ;)) Usually that initial spark is such a small thing. I find it fascinating to hear what it was that inspired an entire book. Or even an entire series!

My spark came from looking at clouds from the wrong direction. I had been to Disney World with my husband and kids, and I had a window seat for our three-hour flight home. I swear the entire country was cloudy that day! I stared at the clouds the whole time, mesmerized.


Later, they became a band of compressed air that was invisible and deadly, named the Bomb's Breath.

What was your WIP spark?

38 comments:

Kelley said...

I was in a plan when I got the spark too!

It was during NaNo and I was 15,000 words into my WIP. Problem was, there was another character in my head that wanted me to cheat on the character in my WIP. And she was far more interesting (at least to me) than the character in my WIP.

So I thought up a story for her. I threw her in a dungeon, having NO IDEA where it was going to go from there and ten days later I hit 'THE END'. :)

Ah, plane rides :)

Cristina said...

I was washing dishes one night... looking out the window into the woods behind my house.

I thought of this story my crazy grandmother told me when I was younger, about how she once saw the Devil, on her way home.. and he had hoofs! She was dead serious with this story too... LOL I'm telling you my grandmother was out of her mind...

and as I washed dishes.. I saw my MC... and she started talking to me.

Joshua said...

Honestly, I'm usually staring into the sky, watching clouds when an idea comes to me. But only if there are clouds. If it's a clear, blue sky...nothing.

JeffO said...

My daughter was in the habit of gushing over one of her friends. One day, she said, "I love so-and-so; she's so great." Being a natural wiseguy, I said, "EVERYbody loves so-and-so" and that started it. "What would it be like to be so-and-so?" I wondered, and started creating a character based on this person. The story has come a long way since then (and that character isn't even the MC), but that was the moment.

Mara Rae said...

I don't know why the term "Girl Friday" came to my mind the day I got the idea for my WIP. But once it did, it got me thinking about a girl named Friday. Only she wasn't a normal girl - she was undead. My original title for this book was "Ghoul Friday," but a few people thought it was too commercial, hence "Forever Friday." But that's where it came from!

Bonnie R. Paulson said...

Love the cloud thing... makes me want your book even more.

This one I'm working on right now I got after dealing with some things with my in-laws. I was in the process of asking my husband why they couldn't see things from my point-of-view and realize I'm not a bad person... I stopped mid-sentence and grabbed a new notebook and started outlining the novel.

At least in-laws are good for something! jk.

S.P. Bowers said...

My spark was from a poem I love. I was thinking about the person the poem was talking to and there was my MC.

Nisa said...

That is an incredible spark. Nice! You know, a lot of my ideas are sparked by dreams, but sometimes it's as simple as something someone said. A phrase that hits me differently. Inspiration comes when you least expect it, it seems. :)

Cassie Mae said...

I've never seen the clouds from that POV. That's awesome!

What sparked me was hearing silence from my three year old downstairs. I instantly got suspicious and thought I'd sneak down there to see what he was up to. Yeah, hit the top stair and toppled down with a resounding crash, lol. 3 year old came around the corner and told me to be quiet.

Turned into my main character going to the bad guy's lair, all ready to kick some butt in this huge intense moment and yeah, he fell down the stairs. :)

Stacy Henrie said...

For the book I'm working on it was asking questions about the sister of a character from another of my books. The book I hope to start this year was sparked by a long drive across Wyoming. :)

Ruth Josse said...

Researching mythical creatures on the Internet. One jumped out at me and I thought how cool and scary the world would be if they really existed.

Kaylee Baldwin said...

The spark for the book I'm editing came from a song by Jimmy Eat World (Hear you me) one day while I was driving. I'd been thinking about a student I'd taught and it all came together for me.

My wip sparked when I was reading over some of my favorite parts in shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra one afternoon.

Patti said...

The spark for my latest book was a name Sunny Irving. There was just something about that name.

Christa said...

Mine was an exercise for a writing workshop. And one sentence I wrote about bad hair. I'm weird that way.

Also, email me later. I have a proposition for you. And it's not anything like that...sheesh.

prerna pickett said...

I get a lot of ideas from my dreams. But my current WIP was inspired by my fascination with the Salem Witch Trials, and possibly meeting someone who lived through that era.

Iain said...

Most of my ideas sneak up and jump out at me with no warning. The new book I'm writing is about satellites being used as weapons of terror. I have no idea where it came from. The book I have lined up to write after this, came from the geothermal heating/cooling system used in New York. Not sure what triggered the idea though.
While I was on holiday over the new year, I woke up at 3:30 with the idea for the book that will follow these. Luckily, I had my new notepad beside the bed and I wrote the idea down - How cool would it be if you could turn of gravity at will?
I have too many ideas, and not enough time to write them. (not that I'm complaining)

Jessie Humphries said...

I didn't even need to read on to know what that picture was about:) I love your spark story. It is so poetic. Mine was when I heard Sara Crowe talking about what she was looking for: dark, gritty, YA thriller with familiar settings but unfamiliar themes/conflicts. At least, that is what I remember her saying.

Maggie said...

Growing up in Wyoming is my spark. I haven't lived there in over a decade, but I can't think about the place and not get another story idea.

Angela Brown said...

I was actually in the middle of another WiP when I got to thinking about what it would be like if America was half it's size now. I guess I was thinking about it because I was doing some research about the Dark Mother goddess. Then I got into creating the story with NaNoWriMo. Now here I am with a story I love.

Carrie Butler said...

My spark? Well, for years I'd been toying the idea of writing a story with a unique, supernatural race (or three *cough*). One night, for whatever reason, I couldn't stop thinking about the concept of balance--specifically, the balance of power. I started jotting down notes while listening to music, and "All I Know" (the 2005 cover) came on. As soon as I heard the first few sentences, the romance element started falling into place. :)

Imogen said...

My spark came from two weeks of period dramas and a Rick Riordan book, 'Son of Neptune'. I was thinking how is voice is so informal and engaging whereas mine more resembles Jane Austen's (though my writing isn't half as good).

The actual story just appeared in the car one day on a 1 1/2 hour journey to a friend's house. I opened my netbook to start working on another idea I'd had, then my period drama appeared on the screen.

Nick Wilford said...

Really interesting reading everyone's responses. The idea for my WIP came out of nowhere almost two years ago - I must have been having one of my regular daydreams. I haven't been writing it for that long BTW, there was an 18-month hiatus after the first 2000 words. Probably about half my ideas come like this - I like to let my mind wander as often as possible! - but otherwise it can be something heard on the radio, a story my wife has told me, just overhearing and watching people and wondering about them, anything really.

Lan said...

I think my spark for my current WIP came to me at work one day. Like a lot of my other ideas tend to. I think as the ultimate procrastinator, my mind just likes to come up with ideas to alleviate the boredom!

Diana said...

Most of my sparks come from dreams. I'll see a scene and build around it. My latest one came from watching the latest of the Pirates of the Caribbean. I'll give you a hint: it involves mermaids. ;)

Bea Sempere (Denise Baer) said...

My idea came about from having a conversation in chat and then it progressed during 2008 NaNoWriMo.

P.S. I like the "Bomb's Breath". :)

Delia said...

I have two WsIP going right now (I know, I know -- bad me), so two sparks. The first was a news story about a bunch of politicians rattling their sabers about how many countries our troops are currently occupying and whether or not the draft would resurface. It began a lovely game of What If between me and myself. By the next day, I had a plot.

The second was a phone call from the American Red Cross about an upcoming blood drive. Before I even hung up the phone, I had an image of a desperate young man sitting on a cot in a Knights of Columbus hall donating blood and fighting off sleep. I wrote the scene and the rest of the story grew from that.

These are all very interesting. I, too, like your Bomb's Breath.

Michelle Dennis Evans said...

reading an anthology of short biographies - sparked into writing one night where I sat up til early morning hours plotting a 3 part series.

tfwalsh said...

Love it when such ideas spark out of nothing... My last spark came while reading a story and a small, side comment was made, completely unrelated to the story - bang, my mind went into overdrive, until I outlined the entire novel.

Megan said...

It was so fun to read all these comments- thanks Peggy! The inspriation for my novel AN UNEXPECTED KINGDOM came after spending the weekend with my then 15 year-old cousin, Annie (the most lovely wonderful girl on earth). As I was driving home I started thinking about what it would be like if everyone suddenly saw her amazingness as clearly as I did. That turned in to the concept of her being from another world and I started writing as soon as I got home.

E.D. said...

I was walking home from work when the idea just hit me, completely out of the blue. Have been working on the WiP ever since...

Lauren Alissa Hunter said...

Mine was less happily inspired.

I had quit my job in a whirlwind sort of quarter life crisis, and booked a one-way flight to China, where I lived in complete solitude... 6 weeks into it, I nearly lost my mind and sought solace in two bottles of (incredibly disgusting) Chinese wine.

The next morning I woke up, still a bit tipsy, and realized for the first time WHY I had run away in the first place. I grabbed my laptop, wrote page after page that I called "The Why of China" and it became the first chapter of my manuscript.

Great question!

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Love your BB spark! And it was so fun reading through the comments and seeing where everyone's ideas come from - they really do come from everywhere! And it's so interesting how the same thing - like clouds - can spark two people in two totally different directions! I get my ideas from things on the radio, overheard conversations, things my kids and their friends to - and usually a spark comes from some combination of ideas.

Clarissa Draper said...

I get creative ideas everywhere but mainly when I'm talking to myself.

However, for my first book (based on codes and math), the idea first came when I saw a specific object (I'm not going to say what that object is because I don't want to spoil the book for anyone.) and saw a pattern in it. I'm always looking for patterns.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I love this, Peggy! My book I just finished came from reading a post on Natalie Whipple's blog. She wrote about her new book that involved a creepy house. So, I thought what if a creepy house was in my new book and the house just happened to have a not quite dead teenager living there. One that could only be seen by a girl who doesn't know she's a witch. And that sparked the idea of Inbetween. ;)

Marewolf said...

OMG I love these sparks! I really like "Ghoul Friday" (commercial or not!) and "The Why of China" sounds amazing.

My current WiP was sparked while I was driving to work and listening to the radio. I live in Reno, and a DJ was talking about how the Reno Aces (minor league baseball team) would be playing the Vegas 51's. And I thought: "Oh, like area 51!" and then after congratulating myself for so cleverly figuring out how they came up with the name of the Vegas team (wink), I thought: "What about area 1-50? Where are they at?"

And so, "Area 49" (YA SciFi/Romance) was born.

Renae W. Mackley said...

Mine came from a news story about a girl who faked pregnancy for her HS senior project. My MC is male so I gave him a different senior project--one that has him learning something more criminal than he intended. So far, I'm calling it Perception.

Anonymous said...

Sparks, sparks! Are we suppose to see them, or hear them, or have them? That must be whats wrong with my writing....no flickers in my knickers yet!

Anonymous said...

Oh by the way, I am really glad I came across your blog Peggy, you're the bomb!