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Career changing Inspiration Writing

Getting Inspiration From Aging

Getting Inspiration From Aging

Aging happens to all of us, even if we die young. And much like children experience various developmental stages, our aging has some stages, too. However, in order to avoid repeating myself, let’s throw out a caveat here and only look at age forty and up.

Forties

For most people in their forties, this decade is a good place to be. Any children are often out of the house or are just about to be. Perimenopause has started for most women. And while that can sometimes be challenging, it’s a signal of things to come. Work can be at or near its zenith in terms of pay and responsibilities. And the house might even be paid for by this time, or close to it.

However, for some people, this is the age bracket when early-onset Alzheimer’s begins.

Fifties

Going beyond the forties means more wear and tear on all bodies. By this time, most women are fully menopausal, although on rare occasions a woman in her fifties becomes pregnant. However, if she does decided to keep her child, she and her child have increased risks of problems.

For people who had children while in their thirties, this decade means sending them to college (and paying for it). Or it can mean getting them married (and possibly paying for that) or starting to work. Furthermore, not every child can afford to leave home and so people in their fifties may find they are still living with their kids. In addition, many people become grandparents during this decade.

This is also a decade to catch up on retirement savings and begin to assess options.

Sixties

While 65 was once the standard retirement age, that’s no longer the case. For people in more sedentary jobs, they might continue to work throughout this decade. In the United States, Social Security rewards you the longer you stay in the work force, so some people may try to make it through the decade.

Parents can often become grandparents in this decade, if they haven’t already. And their children may start to become a lot more financially independent. That’s a good thing, as people in their sixties need to think about the future even more. And it’s the decade when people start to (more often) become the target of scam artists. In addition, widows comprise about one-third of all persons aged 65 and older.

Furthermore, one in nine people over 65 have Alzheimer’s.

Seventies

A lot of people in their seventies may fit in the group of the so-called “young-old” if they haven’t had a major health scare. However, a lot of people get cancer (half of all cancers in Britain are diagnosed during this decade and later). And this is the decade when mortality from Alzheimer’s is at its highest, with 61% of those in this age group with Alzheimer’s dying before their eightieth birthday.

Age 72 is when the Social Security advantages to delaying retirement effectively stop. Hence anyone who works past 72 either likes what they are doing or they really, really need the money.

Eighties

By this decade, if you haven’t gotten Alzheimer’s, your chances of getting it continue to climb. And by now, the risk of it starts doubling every five years. By age 85 and older, one-quarter to one-half of all seniors will exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

However, if you make it past 45, life expectancy for both genders is in the eighties. Hence if you are in a couple, and you’re still together, you may even be during much of this decade. The differences in life expectancy for both sexes flatten out.

For people who have grandchildren, they are often grown or almost grown by now. And pretty much everyone in this age group should at least be thinking about help with the basics of life, everything from navigating stairs to running errands or doing chores.

Aging to the Nineties and Beyond

It’s hard to say if the incidence of Alzheimer’s goes down. Some studies seem to support this although in all fairness, the sample size is understandably smaller. Hence if the doubling incidence continues, that would mean virtually everyone in this age group would be showing at least a few symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, cancer is uncommon as a cause of death. However, even more people become widowed by now. And it might even be the second time that they have become widows or widowers.

Some people become great-grandparents during this decade (or during the previous one), although that depends a lot on a group’s age(s) at becoming parents. Very few people live alone or independently by now.

Is there an upper limit to how long we can live? That’s probably not something we can prove, at least not now. However, the oldest-ever confirmed individual was Jeanne Calment, who died when she was 122 and a half.

Aging: Some Takeaways

Beyond dry statistics about life expectancy, disease prevalence, and widowhood, aging can bring with it grace, or wisdom, or bitterness. All of these are choices, and many more, for your aging characters. Because not every interesting character is young, you know.

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Career changing Publishing Writing

Beta Readers and Editors

Beta Readers and editors

Consider beta readers and editors – what’s the difference? Does it matter which one you use to help with your manuscript?

Beta Readers

Beta readers are people who read over your work. They evaluate it before it gets anywhere near a publisher. They might read for typos, spelling errors, grammatical issues, and punctuation problems, but that is not a very good way to work with them.

Beta Readers and Continuity Checks

Instead, you want them to help you with flow and continuity. If your main character is female and 5’2″ and has a chihuahua on page 4, then she should still be female, 5’2″, and the owner of a chihuahua on page 204, unless there is some on-page reason why she isn’t. E. g.:

  • They are transgender, and successfully transitioned (with or without surgery) to male. Or the character no longer identifies as female or male.
  • The character had a growth spurt and is taller, or has osteoporosis, and became shorter. Or maybe her legs were amputated (sorry, character!).
  • She gave away the chihuahua, or it ran away, etc.

The last thing you want is for your beta reader to wonder where the chihuahua went, particularly if the little dog isn’t a big part of the story.

Demographics

Good beta readers are in the demographics of the people you’re trying to reach with your novel. They like your genre or at least are willing to read in it and offer feedback. They don’t tear you a new one when they don’t like something, but they are also unafraid to tell you if something isn’t working for them.

Some Questions to Ask Them

Ask them:

  • Are the characters believable? Are they distinguishable?
  • Do you think the situations are plausible?
  • Are there good descriptions for the scenes? Can you picture yourself where the characters are?
  • Do the transitions work?
  • Are the conflicts plausible?
  • Is the conclusion a satisfying one?

Also ask about genre-specific issues, such as whether your mystery was too easy or difficult to solve, if your horror story was scary enough, if the technobabble in your science fiction novel was credible, etc.

The best way to get a beta reader is to be one! Offer a trade with another indie. Usually this work is done for free. So be kind, and either recommend your beta reader friend or at least donate a little something to one of their three favorite charities.

Editors

Editors are more professional than beta readers and are generally people you hire. They will do copy editing, where they check for typos, etc., although there should be a last pass by a proofreader before publishing, no matter what.

Editors can also check for continuity, but they will mainly read with the audience in mind. They are a good enhancement to the work of a beta reader, and are a good idea before you send your work out for querying.

Researching Editors

The best way to get an editor is to do some research. Ask people you know are published. After all, an editor no longer has to live in the same city or country as you (but you will do best with someone who is a native speaker of the language your book is in). Work with the editor on a sample chapter. Do you get along? Are his or her suggestions reasonable? Are they slow?

And if you are absolutely, utterly stuck for funds, try a local college or university. You might be able to get an English major to help you, but be aware they probably won’t have experience and they may not be the best fit. But they may be all you’ve got.

And make sure to have a written agreement with them! This is a sample copyediting contract, and it’s pretty good. Be sure to change the contract to indicate the laws of your state apply!

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Writing

Writing – Starting a Piece

Background – Starting a Piece

Starting can be fraught with stress and worry. You can, at times, wonder if what you’re doing is worthwhile at all. But don’t worry; it is.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill - Starting a Piece
Starting a piece? Here are some ideas of how to get going.

One year I created a kind of web. I had the main character and put her name in a circle on paper. Then I drew a bunch of lines radiating out. I connected her to other characters and then, on the lines, wrote why they connected – whatever it was (and she didn’t have to connect to everyone, of course). That got me to start creating scenes, and I ordered them. Some ended up just being little scenelets. I did this with all of the major characters and eliminated redundancies. Once I had the order down, I started to think about transitions between scenes.

Points of View

This web concept worked very well for a story with one main character. For The Real Hub of the Universe series, Ceilidh was always the center of things and everything would happen from her point of view. If she did not directly witness something, she would have to read about it or learn about it in some other fashion. Sometimes this meant that another character would have to have a conversation with her.

Multiple POVs

For a piece with multiple points of view, the process can differ. This time, the web is more like a series of intersecting rings. How do characters relate? What do they see, feel, and hear, touch and taste? Who do they know, or like, or despise? What are their goals? What are their prejudices? With Mettle, there are nine separate points of view, although some of them (like Eleanor’s) aren’t the focus too often. Instead, characters with more “screen time”, such as Nell, Craig, and Elise, had to do more of the heavy lifting. One thing which helped a great deal (and it was serendipity, I swear!) was that one of the major plot points concerned lessons which the middle schooler characters had not yet had. Therefore, a part of the exposition became teaching them. As they were taught, so was the reader.

This is one of the reasons why so many television programs kick off with someone moving or getting a new job, or the start of a relationship. Newness is appealing, yes, but it’s also because that gives an expository “out”. If everyone in the book or TV show knows how high Niagara Falls is, then they won’t need to bother talking about it. But if one character does not know, then the audience or reader learns this piece of information at the same time that the ignorant character does. That’s ignorant in terms of “not knowing” rather than being dumb, FYI.

Starting a Piece: Some Takeaways

If you’re still having a hard time starting, recognize that it can also be a species of writer’s block. But if the stress is really bad, you can always write about it.

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Career changing Inspiration Writing

Getting Inspiration From The Physical World

Getting Inspiration From The Physical World

A Look at The Physical World

The physical world can inspire, whether it’s the Appalachian Trail, or your bedroom, or the Himalayas. And while not everyone can live in Paris or visit Yosemite National Park, we can all be inspired by our own personal universes. Moreover, if your world can inspire you, then your readers can come along for the ride.

The Great Indoors

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Getting inspiration from the physical world
Does the physical world inspire you?

So consider The Chronicles of Narnia. Why? Because the means of traveling to a magical world is via a common ordinary wardrobe. And how about Alice in Wonderland? Lewis Carroll told his story about a lot of things Alice Liddell already knew, such as chair legs and a deck of cards.

So from your desk to your computer or chair, what can you really see when you look closely? Also, go beyond the somewhat common idea of a computer sucking someone into cyberspace. It’s not a bad idea; it’s just been done a lot. Maybe your character is buried by paper. Or they end up in the vacuum cleaner. Attics and cellars can seem very frightening. What about the walls, or the ceiling?

The Physical World Includes The Great Outdoors

And then we get to the outside. So what do we see? Carroll saw hedgehogs, dormice, and rabbits. We can also see plants, of course. Are they large and menacing, or small and fragrant? And what about natural structures or scenery, such as mountains, rivers, lakes, and canyons?

Part of The Wizard of Oz takes place in an apple orchard. It’s easy to see how and why L. Frank Baum imagined trees talking and even throwing fruit. How about imagining how a certain structure came to be? We all know (or at least we should) that craters come from falling meteors or even comet strikes. But what if a crater exists because a spaceship landed there? A structure like Stonehenge can also inspire.

Takeaways

Get outside and take stock of your surroundings. They may inspire more than you think.

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Career changing Inspiration Writing

Character Sexuality

Character Sexuality

A look at character sexuality can take you in any number of directions.

Character Sexuality
Character Sexuality matters!

First of all, you need to listen to your characters. Are they telling you who they like? Maybe they are, or maybe they’re a little shy about that. Can you see your characters with someone of the same sex, or with anyone, for that matter? Because remember that your own characters’ sexualities need not reflect your own.

So consider how you will present it. For a great, matter-of-fact presentation of character sexuality, just look at Sulu in Star Trek Beyond. Because without saying a word, all that happens is, he is greeted by a man with a little girl, he hugs the girl, and then the three walk away as Sulu and the other man (it’s unclear whether they are meant to be married, so I’m hesitant to use a word like boyfriend or husband) go arm in arm. And that’s it. It’s subtle and loving and sweet.

And of course people protested. Because change can be scary to a lot of folks, I suppose.

Flipping Your Own Personal Script

You have probably been the same sexuality for much of your life. And while gender and sexuality can be fluid, that is not the case for everyone. However, there is a spectrum. Hence even if you have been, say, heterosexual your entire life, you may find you are not completely, 100% ‘straight’.

Furthermore, consider a thought experiment. Why am I suggesting this? Because a writer should be able to think about any number of characters and types of characters. And that includes those who have differing sexualities from the writer. After all, don’t we write about men if we are women, or women if we are men? Stephen King wrote about Dolores Claiborne. Harper Lee wrote about Atticus Finch. And even though most writers aren’t in their league(s), you can still make the effort.

Hence this means also looking into not only gay and lesbian characters, but also asexual characters, bisexual ones, and even characters into other things, like, say, S & M.

Character Sexuality: Some Takeaways

None of this is required, of course. But a thought experiment, I feel, is never a bad idea. You may find a character who speaks to you and who you really want to write. Or maybe you won’t. Only you can know that.

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Career changing Inspiration Writing

Getting Inspiration from Visual Artists

Getting Inspiration from Visual Artists

Visual artists and the visual arts can be a source of intense inspiration. Because their struggles can be a lot like a writer’s.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Visual Artists
Do you ever get your inspiration from visual artists and their works?

Consider how a piece of art makes any of us feel. Does it inspire? Or are you puzzled? Can it move you emotionally? And what’s happening around the fringes? Because sometimes the details and the background are of more interest than the main subject. You know, just like in books sometimes.

Hence let’s take a look at some inspiring pieces.

Visual ArtistsOf course Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is one of the most recognizable pieces of art in the world.

Furthermore, the mystery of the piece continues to this day, as it has for a few hundred years. So, what, exactly, does her smile mean? After all, it’s a small smile. And so the model intrigues us, even now.

 

 

 

Here’s another one.Visual Artists Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory is another very well-known piece although you might not have known its name.

Because the painting is so strange, it can offer any number of interpretations. How important is time? Is the setting a desert? And what about the odd white lump in the center? Could that maybe be a creature wearing a clock as a saddle? Maybe it means we are all driven by time and memory. Hence we are all under its yoke.

So think about the paintings (and sculptures, too!) which you know. And consider what you see in them, for they may help, particularly with writer’s block.

A Practical Idea

So did you know that Pinterest has secret pin boards? It’s true. And what that means is, you can always create a secret board for only you to see. Or you can share it with a select audience, such as beta readers or even fans, if you like.

And all you need to do is, go to your profile and scroll all the way down. You’ll find it on the left (“Create Secret Board“). And that’s all you need to. So fill it with art which has meaning for you.

Visual Artists: Some Takeaways

Visual artists and art can inspire. And the internet means you don’t even have to visit a museum, although you might want to, anyway.

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Career changing Inspiration Writing

Getting Inspiration From Names

Getting Inspiration From Names

Names

While names have meanings, you can even get inspiration simply from how they sound. What’s Gertrude like? How about Lakeisha? Or maybe Stefan or Juan?

Popularity

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Getting inspiration from names
Can you get inspiration from names?

The popularity of what people call their children changes over time. This can depend upon movie stars, politicians, or even religious figures. When I was born in 1962, my first name, Janet, was already past its peak. However, it was popular in the 1930s and 1940s. Why?

Because in 1937, Janet Gaynor starred in A Star is Born. However, Janet Leigh did not star in Psycho until 1960. And Janet Jackson doesn’t seem to be having too much of an effect on baby naming. For a lot of little girls who would have have the name Janet in the past, now often have the name Jennifer or Jessica.

Ethnicity

Another factor? Ethnicity. Maria has probably made the crossover to non-Spanish and non-Italian families, but not Juan and Vito. How many non-Russians have the name Boris (the British politician Boris Johnson notwithstanding)? And do you know any non-Irish women named Siobhan? So when you create your characters, see if you can match ethnicity. Of course there are Jewish kids named Sean and British people named Dominic. So this isn’t a hard and fast rule or anything.

For my own work, Ceilidh O’Malley in The Real Hub of the Universe has the most ethnic name of all of my main characters. But Noah Braverman and Mei-Lin Quan from Mettle are up there, too, as is Mercedes Pérez in Time Addicts.

Tradition

For westerners, traditional names generally come from both the Old and New Testament, or from the saints. Hence you see Margaret and Mary, but also James and David. Other related names can be similar or with alternate spellings or derivatives. Marynel and Maryellen of course derive from Mary, and Stefan is just the German version of Stephen (or Steven).

In my own work, the most traditional names mainly come from The Real Hub of the Universe. This is because that trilogy takes place in the 1870s and 1880s.

Inventions

People also, sometimes, invent new names. Actress Alyssa Milano’s daughter is named Elizabella. So of course the name comes from clipping the Beth part off Elizabeth and instead inserting the similar name, Bella. While it might or might not catch on more widely, it’s a fairly harmless alteration. Plus it allows for a number of shortenings.

Because all of the characters in Untrustworthy are aliens, I had to come up with names. Hence I came up with Tathrelle, Ixalla, Adger, and Velexio.

Takeaways For Names

Name your characters whatever you wish, but do keep them consistent within your universe. And while there’s technically nothing wrong with having two similarly-named characters, if they spend too much time together and are otherwise too similar, that can lead to some . Hence you might occasionally want to change Tim and Tom to Tim and Dan.

And keep in mind, names can come into and go out of fashion. These days, very old-fashioned names are often popular again. Hence, your futuristic science fiction novel might have people named Hiram, Dorcas, or Ethel.

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Writing

NaNoWriMo Advice for All

NaNoWriMo Advice for All

NaNoWriMo advice? Yes; I’ve won it every year I’ve entered.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | NaNoWriMo Advice

This is (for real!) how to do NaNoWriMo. Learn from my mistakes!

Preliminaries

1) Plan if you can and if that helps you. I would suggest even pantsers should at least do research in advance. No sense in looking up how to say “I love you” in Latvian during November if you can do it beforehand. And no, that’s not cheating.

Dailies

2) Write every single day. It should be at least 1667 words, but even 1 word beats the hell out of none. I have found this is some of the best NaNoWriMo advice I have ever gotten. Writing every day gets you into a habit.

Move Ahead if You’re Stuck

3) Can’t write chapter 4? Then skip it and write chapter 5. You’ll go back, or maybe chapter 4 will turn out to be superfluous. You’ll stitch it together later.

Don’t Edit!

4) Don’t edit! Do that in January or February (in December, either finish or just leave it). In November, it’ll eat up time when you should be writing.

Manage Family Expectations

5) Tell your family or whoever you live with that you’re doing it. Ask someone else to take the kids for an hour, or say you’ll make dinner all December if someone else does it in November, etc. Just, set expectations and get some help from others to get all the other little things done around your home. E. g. my husband isn’t a writer but he’ll put on his headphones at his desk while I’m writing so his computer sounds won’t bother me. Little things like that help.

Getting Ahead

6) If and when you can get ahead, do so. Can you write 1800 or 2000 words or more instead of 1667? Then go for it. No law says you have to stop at 1667 and call it a day. If you’re feeling it, have at it!

November 30th Isn’t Some Magic Day When Suddenly You Have to be Done With Your Story

7) The story does not have to be finished at 11:59 PM on November 30th. You just need 50,000 words. For the last two years in a row, I finished NaNoWriMo in the middle of November but didn’t finish the books (they were both over 100,000 words) until January. No, this is not cheating.

Nixing Writer’s Block

8) Got writer’s block? Then step away from the keyboard and exercise for 15 – 30 minutes. Pump iron, take a walk, play frisbee, beat the rugs, shovel snow. I don’t care. Just burn calories and then go back to it. Because it really does help.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

9) Don’t compare your accomplishments to others. Because there will always be someone who writes 100,000 words in one day or something like that. And there will always be people complaining that they’re behind. Also, there will always be people typing up until the very last second, and there will always be people wasting time online. Don’t worry about them.

Just take care of your own work and leave them to theirs. Their issues, quirks, and complaints are none of your concern.

Back Up Your Work!

10) Back up your work! I back up in three rather different places – my hard drive, a flash drive, and OneDrive, which is Microsoft’s cloud storage. So I highly recommend a similar setup for everyone. I had to replace a computer right before 2017 NaNo but I lost none of my prep work because it was on two places other than my old laptop’s hard drive.

There is always someone who loses their work during November. And I have seen it all, from soda on keyboards to toddlers stomping on flash drives and breaking them, to power outages. Don’t be that person.

Sabotage

Lots of people get this, and sometimes a friend or a loved one doesn’t even realize they are doing this. Remember what I said about managing family expectations? You may need to reiterate this. Or you may need to put it in writing so it’s not “forgotten”. Your solutions might be to get up early to write before others are up, or at lunch break, or during a commute, or late at night when everyone’s gone to bed.

Got headphones (or at least earbuds)? Then put those suckers on, even if you play no music at all. This is body language. You are busy and working; others will just have to wait. And tough on them.

You Take Care of You – And Guard Your Writing Time Jealously

Here is also where expectation management comes in handy. If your family was already told you would not be cooking in November, then they can’t say on the fourth that you didn’t warn them. You can also stave off some of this with family preparations before the first rolls around. Got a slow cooker? Then make a bunch of meals and freeze them for during the month. Get the kids’ haircuts and dentist appointments out of the way in October. You get the idea.

If it’s someone or something that really can’t wait (your toddler is screaming, your mother is in the emergency room, or your spouse is seriously threatening divorce), then by all means stop what you’re doing in order to deal with that.

And if you don’t make it to 50,000 words, it’s okay. Really, it is. NaNoWriMo exists so that writing, which is an often solitary endeavor, gets a social component. But that’s it. If you write in December or October, or you write less than 50,000 words, or you never validate, it’s equally okay.

Some Final Words of NaNoWriMo Advice

The best NaNoWriMo advice I can give anyone is to have fun with it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

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Career changing Inspiration Writing

Writing Children and About Children

Children

Children characters can present their own set of challenges. And keep in mind, I wrote a bit about kids in the Aging post. However, now it’s time for a deeper dive into what it means to write about children.

Don’t gloss over childhood. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Some kids have truly horrible lives – bullying, abuse, poverty, and trafficking are all still with us. And don’t forget, even infants can get cancer. But right now, let’s concentrate on some issues that are a lot easier to take.

Infants and Toddlers

The very young can change in rather rapid and surprising ways. Fortunately, several developmental charts exist. And they can give you an idea of what a baby or child can do at a certain stage. Hence, for example, a newborn should not be out of diapers unless they have help or you are writing some sort of fantasy. Furthermore, while these charts give an idea of what to expect, they’re not laws.

Kids develop at their own paces. So recognize that while your newborn character going diaper-less is probably not going to be believable, you can still write a range for these milestones. Furthermore, you can also use standard milestones as a way to signal problems with a baby, such as by showing the reader a child who should be crawling as barely holding his head up.

Preschoolers and Elementary School Children

The start of school is a major event in a young child’s life. And so are other firsts, such as learning to read and beginning to really socialize. And their vocabularies are growing as their worlds continue to expand. By this time, they probably have a good idea of their sexuality even if girls are icky and boys are gross.

For the most part, a child does not naturally lisp! Adding lisping and other affectations will just irritate most readers. However, you can indicate immaturity with simpler sentence structures and vocabulary. A young child has not read Kierkegaard. And they probably don’t know what plenipotentiary means, either. Unless, of course, they’re a genius.

But use genius characters sparingly. Most people just plain aren’t Einstein or Hawking, etc. Too many geniuses, unless you make them some sort of a special program, are just going to be annoying to readers.

Tweens and Teens

As with younger children, these older kids have their own developmental milestones. Puberty in girls comes with not only the development of secondary sex characteristics, but also menarche. Adolescence in boys can arrive later than in girls.

Writing a historical novel? Then know that menarche (a girl’s first menstrual period) occurs about three years earlier now than it did a century ago. This is due to, among other things, better nutrition.

Kids in these age groups tend to start to get interested in relationships (although asexual folks beg to differ). Plus, everything can be ultra-dramatic. Some may be losing their virginity or facing pregnancy issues. And others might be late bloomers, wondering why things are happening to everyone but them. Our present-day culture attaches a number of privileges to this time, including becoming old enough to drive, work, drink, marry, go to war, and even vote.

Takeaways

Kids are more than their developmental stages. However, it still pays to know these and follow them, even if you want your characters to subvert them. And as with all characters, do your best to avoid clichés.

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Career changing Inspiration Writing

Getting Story Ideas

Getting Story Ideas

Getting story ideas can sometimes be difficult.

Where do your story ideas come from? Harlan Ellison has been known to quip, “Schenectady.”

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Getting story ideas
Where are you getting story ideas?

I wanted to use this image for a blog post about getting story ideas because it is perhaps the oddest thing. Because I really did see this dirty plate in the sink a few years ago. And I thought: there’s a story there.

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

So for every dirty plate, there are a thousand other possible sources of inspiration. And I’ve been posting a lot of these sources. These are means of how I inspire myself but they are far from being all-inclusive. And you don’t have to find any of them inspiring if you don’t want to. Also, your methodology will, undoubtedly, differ from my own.

However, here are some things which have worked well for me.

Personal Methodology

  • Look at multiples. That is, if you see one thing that is of interest, pair it with something unexpected. Or maybe add another thing to it. As a result of doing this, I came up with the phrase, “Smart kangaroos“. And this phrase helped me to write a ton of fan fiction.
  • Flip the script. So what I mean is, consider the opposite of something you like. Or even consider something you dislike, and what it would take to make you like it.
  • Filter your outside stimuli. That is, look at the outside world like a character or a reader would. What do you notice? What do you ignore?
  • Let ideas settle and percolate.
  • Use brainstorming as a tactic. This means not filtering your ideas. The concept behind brainstorming is to throw a ton of jello against a wall and hope some of it sticks (or something like that; I’m probably mixing metaphors here). The short answer is: don’t self-censor.
  • Write down your dreams.
  • Write down your ideas, no matter what they are. They might be a turn of phrase, a scene, a name, a face, anything.

Getting Story Ideas: Takeaways

If all else fails, you can look at writing prompts and those are perfectly fine. But to make your own kinds of prompts, consider what you would be doing if you had to be the one coming up with the prompts.