Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Which came first--the research or the idea? I think most writers start with the premise and then delve into researching it. I guess I've always been a bit backwards. I start with the research and actively troll for writing ideas. Let me show you how as we continue with my 4Rs for Ideas.


I know you research. I bet I know why you research.

You need information on that article about radar. You want authentic historical background for your novel about Cleopatra's slave girl. Your short story heroine collects stamps and you require accurate detail. Good writing entails research.

Why not research for ideas? Of course, idea encyclopedias don't exist. Moreover, an atlas won't lead you down the idea path. But go ahead, scour almanacs and peruse geographic tables on average annual rainfalls. Reference books certainly jump start your curiosity. But don't stop there. Engage in creative research.
Eat a bagel for breakfast? Now there is an old world food. Where did bagels originate? When? How are they made? Look it up. Fascinated by industrious ants? Wonder if they ever sleep? How long do they live? Look it up. How do candy canes get their stripes? When were umbrellas invented? Who was the youngest queen in history? What caused the Mississippi river to flow backwards? Look it up.

Idea research requires only minutes of time on the internet or as part of a routine library visit. Jot brief notes in your journal and record the source so you can delve into deeper research if you decide to develop your idea later. Curiosity may have killed the cat; but it generates ideas for writers.

Now you've seen 3 of the 4 Rs. Hope they have jump started your imagination. Only 1 R remains. Once we have reviewed all 4, test them out. Send me any writing ideas or prompts that resulted from my 4Rs and I will publish them on my blog. Details for length and format will follow the final R.


1 comment:

Kim Kasch said...

Thanks for brainstorming with all us wannabe writers. Maybe an idea will come from this