The Idea Incubator

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charlesp
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The Idea Incubator

Postby charlesp » Sat Feb 09, 2008 4:51 pm

LiveDev.net has an interesting little piece on an "Idea Incubator". We all know that we should let a manuscript incubate for a time before editing, but what about ideas? I'm not sure all ideas work incubated, but I'm sure some of those ideas that I had at 3AM after one too many slices of Pizza would benefit from waiting around in a notebook somewhere to see if they still make sense in a day or two (but for heaven's sake put more info than just "chocolate frog invasion" if you want to know what the idea actually was later).

I've got a handful of applications I'm considering for this (all Mac-centric but with PC/Linux/Web equivs out there somewhere I'm sure). I've got a personal wiki software called Voodoo Pad which is nice (I've tried it for a few things like story bibles and book lists and such, never sure I'm using it to its full potential). Next is DevonThink which is a great repository for "stuff" (you can highlight part of an article on a web page and hit a couple keys and save it to your personal database, as well as take your own notes and such there). There's a little app called Journler that is originally intended as a personal journaling app, but could also work for this sort of thing. The other I have that's an interesting possibility is Taskpaper which is a very simple to-do list application that uses text files. It could be an interesting "capture" thing because it's very simple and might make it easy to get the 1-2 sentence ideas as individual to-do items and then just check them off when they get transfered to something else for more filling out.

http://lifedev.net/2008/02/how-to-set-u ... incubator/

What do you think about the concept? how do you capture your ideas?

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C Clarke
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Postby writermike » Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:33 am

Many of my ideas come from reading the paper and discussing topics with my co-author. After it percolates for a while, we then talk about upcomings projects and how we can add a twist to the story. A twist that is believable is also important, not just a twist for the sake of "cute" writing.
Mike and Diane have written four books and two screenplays. MICAH'S CHILD is on the shelves and THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES is on the way. Their screenplay, TREASURE OF THE FOUR LIONS, www.fourlionsmovie.com, has two studios signed on. Medea by Lang Buchanan is on www.amazon.com/Medea
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xcheck24
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Postby xcheck24 » Sun Feb 10, 2008 9:45 am

When it came to work with my articles, I used to have to write them down. And I'd make a few calls and talk to a few people to see if the article was feasible.

But for the rest of my writing. I tend to write things in my head over a period of time. It's always how I've worked as a writer, and it's a skill I developed as a reporter. Reporters are always writing their articles as they are reporting. At least the good ones. lol

So an idea will pop in my head and incubate there for awhile. It's just a matter of writing enough in my head for me to shake it loose onto the page.

I know other writers have yelled at me for this process because I don't do it "right" in their minds. But it's the process that has always worked for me.
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Postby donduck » Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:22 pm

I also tend to write in my head for quite a while before putting anything on paper. And for other writers yelling at you because you don't do it "right" in their minds, well, that's something that just gets my goat! If it works for you, great! And I'm happy you have a process that works for you. Over the course of my life I've become more introverted because of people telling me I'm wrong because I may not do things "their" way. The way works for me. It took me a long, long time to find my way out of the hole I let people dig for me. I'm still working at it.

The good part is, I believe, that it has made me less critical of other's endeavors. There are many roads to the same place, and we all have our favorite ways to get there. Can you imagine how crowded it would be if we all took the same road?

Didn't mean to preach. You do what works for you and be proud of it! And don't let anyone tell you otherwise (unless you want to).

Have a good day!
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Postby writermike » Sun Feb 10, 2008 3:33 pm

No kidding. You can talk to a hundred different writers and they will have almost that many approaches to writing. Whatever works for you. Seems that the only consistent piece of advice is to be persistent and edit, edit, edit.
Mike and Diane have written four books and two screenplays. MICAH'S CHILD is on the shelves and THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES is on the way. Their screenplay, TREASURE OF THE FOUR LIONS, www.fourlionsmovie.com, has two studios signed on. Medea by Lang Buchanan is on www.amazon.com/Medea
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Postby timberline » Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:44 pm

Bunch of you know Wordtrip's prompts get me rolling. But, news stories and odd bits of minutia make me run to the PC. William Gibson (Spook Country) grabbed me last week when he wrote, "She remembered [him] describing Stockholm syndrome, the fondness and loyalty one could supposedly come to feel for even the most brutal captor.... America had developed Stockholm syndrome toward its own government, post 9/11."

Wow! Bunch of story plots here, but the first has taken me into a mystery about a woman who apparently disappears. 28 year-old, Wellesley and Yale Law grad, living in a place where God would buy a house if He could afford it... Turns out, with all the achievement and wealth, she's been kidnapped by the system since childhood.

Other idea-generators: news about the woman in France who got a face transplant (just sold to Every Day Fiction), story in the China Post saying cubicle rats probably have "office spouses" (every editor was outraged at this one), blog from weird numerolgists worrying about the number 11 (sold to Bewildering Stories), psychologist talking about Capgras syndrome, where a family member becomes a stranger (sold to Mouth Full of Bullets).

My free advice (worth what you pay for it): read everything, including cereal boxes, then jot down those odd thoughts that come into your head.
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dee
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Postby dee » Fri May 16, 2008 9:23 am

I dunno, I used to get inspired by seeing an interesting person walking down the street or a leaf falling. In the midst of a life of chaos it was the small things that brought me peace that I tried to capture and hold onto in my writing.

The past few months i think it's conflict that's getting me going. I don't have as much conflict in my life now and when it appears it's like a big surprise. The last story I wrote was inspired by a friend of mine who insulted my topic of interest in a piece of fiction. I'm dying to send her an email to tell her that her distaste for my "wicked ways" got me published :) I mean I should at least say thank you, right?

The story I'm working on now was inspired by a family member who disappeared for a while for reasons unknown, and decided to just reappear like nothing ever happened. I'm beginning to see outside of these situations and turn them into something good. I mean, who do these people think they are anyway? They are characters, that's who they are :)

I also think I need one of those T-shirts that says "Careful or you'll end up in my novel"

Inspiration comes from everywhere, we just have to notice it.
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Postby gnomenapper » Fri May 16, 2008 11:49 am

I like to take things from real life and blow them up to comic proportions. Eventually they seem to morph into something new and the original idea is gone.

The starting idea for the novel series I'm working on came from a walk outside. I remembered how I used to love to lay on the grass and stare up at the clouds. (Find cloud pictures.) Somehow that turned into sisters doing this, but finding very different images. Eventually it gave me the characters in my mind- and I continued from there. Why would each sister have such drastically different cloud pictures?

Funny thing is, that scene didn't even make it into novel 1- it got cut entirely.

I also think I need one of those T-shirts that says "Careful or you'll end up in my novel


Ha! That t-shirt sounds amazing. I warn people never to aggravate a writer, unless you want to end up with a shady character in one of their writings. I'm known to take people I know, and use them as the impetus for various characters. By the time I'm done with the development, they don't even realise they're in my novel lol.
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dee
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Postby dee » Fri May 16, 2008 1:23 pm

I did exactly the same thing, lay in the grass and form pictures in the clouds. Not enough people do that.

I know what you mean. The inspiration is a tiny spark that leads to a larger flame that once fully engulfed isn't recognizable at all. It seems I have only just begun to learn this.

Here's the T-shirt:

http://www.whatonearthcatalog.com/cgi-b ... submit.y=8

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