If you’ve been a writer for any length of time, someone who wants to write will, without a doubt, ask you this question, “Where do you get your ideas to write the things you write.”
I often face the idea of “new ideas” when writing this blog every week. First I have learned to divide the blog up by topics. What do I think my audience wants to read about the subject of writing and writing two posts on that subject every week? First, since I have divided my own personal writing day into morning productivity and afternoon book marketing, I have determined to write a productivity blog for Tuesday and a marketing blog on Thursday. In between the two, on Wednesdays, I write my pastoral blog post that usually recaps the sermon that I produced for the previous Sunday. On Fridays, I post a video about gardening. I am thinking about changing that though, because I haven’t had much of a response from those videos.
How Do I Get New Ideas?
What do I write about that stands out? How do I find new ideas? The truth is, there are no new ideas. There never have been. As King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes almost 3000 years ago,, there is nothing new under the sun.
How can that be true?” You ask. “We have all kinds of new things. Why look in the past 200 years we’ve gone from steam engine to the moon! Every home went from candle light to LED lighting. We went from hand set type to Kindle. We have machines now that can reproduce anything from a prototype. How can you say that there is nothing new under the sun?”
Just as matter and energy cannot be destroyed, only changed, the same is true with ideas. Every idea has always existed in one form or another. Think about a computer chip for a moment. The materials used in the computer chip have always existed in one form or another. The same is true with ideas. Over the millennia, ideas have not been created, but have been discovered. The natural laws that are used to create the computer chip have always existed. The binary system has always existed from the time man could determine zero from one. Other technologies related to the computer chip which is used to run computers also are ideas based on natural laws that have been discovered and utilized in numerous, creative ways.
What is creative, is not the actual physical material, energy, natural laws or ideas, but the way that those physical materials, energy, natural laws and ideas are put together. The creative energy is energy that has flowed through a human mind, re-examined and that human reframes these physical materials, energy, natural laws and ideas in different ways.
When an author writes a book, that author does the same thing. The author takes the ideas and reframes those ideas. No new idea exists, ideas are simply reframed.
Different Points of View in Historical Fiction
The other day, one of my acquaintances asked me what I wrote and I showed her my books. She saw that it was historical fiction and she said that I took an easy route to creating fiction. I research historical events, and then include characters that I have developed over a series of books. I take something that was real and make it real again through my characters. I don’t see that its all that easy. In some ways its harder than writing contemporary fiction or science fiction or fantasy for that matter. There’s always going to be someone who studies history who takes one person’s viewpoint over another person’s and say that my point of view of that incident was not accurate.
There is no single accurate point of view in historical fiction because history is all about the point of view. There’s a saying that says he who wins the war writes the history books. I know that’s true. I was born in Northwestern Pennsylvania, but I have lived most of my adult life here in Missouri. During the American War, Missouri was border state, but I have come in contact with numerous “white” people whose families were from the South and of the Confederacy. They don’t see the war the same way I was brought up to see that war. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Neither its just differences in point of view.
You can say the same thing about religion or politics. The drama comes when those ideas clash. That drama of those ideas is what makes historical fiction so enticing. Its why so many great books could be written about the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the American Civil War (among others). Each book is different because it draws on different points of view. In other words, the ideas are processed through different people creating different scenarios.
How Is Your Idea Different?
So whether you’re writing historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, contemporary fiction, any kind of fiction, or nonfiction for that matter, what makes your idea different from the next person’s idea? What makes your idea different is that ITS YOUR IDEA! It’s your spin on the subject matter. The question shouldn’t be what new idea can I come up with, but rather how do I make this idea uniquely mine. How is my perception of this subject different from anything that I have ever read? How is it the same? What can I add based on my own observations?
Theory of Developing New Ideas
We know that ideas have always existed in some form, that what makes the difference in developing ideas is in point of view or how we as the author sees that idea, but the question remains, “How do we learn new ideas that work?”
First of all, we have to know the original ideas. If what we write is to be believable, we must have a working knowledge of known facts. If we don’t have these facts, we have to find them. In other words, we have to research those facts. Next we have to question those facts and relate them to our point of view. Can I fudge these facts and if I do, what else has to change in the process? For your idea to be believable, you have to ground it in facts otherwise you’ll lose your reader.
If all this sounds very scientific, it is. Look at the facts, create a hypothesis, experiment and test, that’s how new ideas are developed whether in test tube or in a plot arc.
Creativity does not mean that you have to start from a clean slate. New ideas really don’t exist. Understanding that no new ideas exist and that all I had to do was take existing facts and make them my own was very freeing. For me this knowledge means that there is never a blank page. My idea already exists.
Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church 1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm. As Author Cygnet Brown, she has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga