This is the fourth posting in a series of 5 related topics. If you missed the first three, search for ‘Writing Idea‘ on my blog and you should find them there.
I subscribe to the Writer’s Digest newsletter and get emails from time to time about writing ideas. I got such an email with ‘5 Ways to Come Up With Great Story Ideas’. So, I have decided to post each of the prompts and my response.
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So, here goes the fourth one:
Just because you’re stuck in a bit of a funk when it comes to ideas doesn’t mean that other people are. Take your notepad or laptop out of the house, sit down somewhere and observe the scenery around you-and listen to any and every conversation within earshot. You can do this at a park, restaurant, coffee shop or, my personal favorite, a bar (people who have a few drinks in them tend to share the best stories). Remember, jot down all the stories you hear but be sure to give them a twist to make them your own.
As a writer, I love to people watch. The way people talk to one another, position their bodies, act and react to speech, it’s all fascinating. And I use what I see in what I write all the time. It goes against my grain to eavesdrop on someone else’s conversation, but sometimes you just can’t help overhear what’s being said.
My husband and I were at a restaurant a few months ago and there were two ladies in the booth next to ours. They were loudly discussing giving their elderly mother a bath and the … um … negative aspects of such a task. Now, mind you, I was trying to eat. So I did not appreciate overhearing their conversation. However, sometimes you overhear something that is though provoking or interesting.
I was recently in a coffee shop and there were two ladies sitting at the table behind mine. They were talking about the daughter of one of the ladies who apparently had been getting into trouble at school and just recently had got into trouble with the law. The girls mother was furious and she was telling her friend what she planned to do about it. Her plan included some rather harsh punishments (at least, I thought so) such as making her stay in her room when she wasn’t in school, only allowing her to come out for food and using the bathroom. Taking away all her privileges, no phone, no computer, no nothing. Although I would definitely be firm if either of my boys ever got into trouble like that, I think the mother was carrying it a bit too far. The mother said herself that the girl was a good kid and she didn’t understand why she was acting this way.
I would write about the teenage daughter and her mother. I would talk about how the harsh punishments pushed the girl further away from her mother. I would write about the things the girl was going through and that she had a big secret she didn’t feel like she could tell her mother and so she was acting out her frustration and confusion in acts of defiance. Perhaps the girl gets worse before she gets better and gets arrested, probation, community service, a fine, the whole bit. Of course, in the end, the girl does tell her mother her secret and there is tearful making up and everyone lives happily ever after. When there’s children involved, I usually like the happy ending. 🙂
So what do you think? Share your favorite writing ideas or your ideas for this prompt in the comment section below.
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