Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Most Annoying Question Authors Receive…

‘Where do you get your ideas?’
What makes this question annoying for me is that half the time even I don’t know where the idea for my next novel will come from. For example, the other day I was having lunch with a friend, and she had a turn of phrase that I’d never heard before. I won’t share it here (that’s my idea, after all!), but I will give a few other examples.
I like to use idioms as a way to build characters, settings, or plot lines. This is more useful in the formative stages of writing, rather than when I’m trying to write myself out of a literary corner.
Example 1: “Those two get on like a house on fire.”
Maybe it’s just that I’m not British, but comparing the quick spread of friendship to the rapid destruction of a structure seems counterintuitive. I might take this idiom and make a story out of it by understanding it literally. A house on fire is a bad thing, so the two people must be enemies… and go from there.
Alternatively, I could write a story about the rapid spread of friendship, with characters going from complete strangers to lifelong friends in a single glance. (Actually, the second one sounds more interesting.)
See the prompt above to create your own story from common idioms in the English language.

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