I know, right? It’s the question every writer gets, and every writer I know has come up with some pat answer to fend off further questions. (One of my writer friends says he gets his ideas at a little shop in Marfa, Texas. I SO want to visit that shop. His ideas are really good.)
I had the amazing opportunity to present a workshop at the Dripping Springs Community Library today to a group of twenty-three 8-10 year olds about that very question. (No pictures, sorry! It’s not cool to post photographs of kids without those pesky permission forms. 🙂
I called the workshop “Finding a Fantastic What If.” We began with a quick overview of the parts of a story, and then I spoke to them about my book’s initial what if: What if Hansel and Gretel found a gingerbread house… but it wasn’t a house, it was a modern-day school. And what if the teacher was the witch?”
Then we collaborated to make up a new character (Snowflake the Delicious Unicorn, in this case), and give him character traits. (Poor Snowflake was lonely, scared, and prone to being snacked on by everyone since he had a mane and tail made of cotton candy and a horn made of fruit tarts. Whoa, fruit tart horn? I would totally eat that unicorn.)
Then I had the kids tell me what Snowflake’s problem was, and his goal. We talked about some good ways – and repetitious ways, using fairy tales and the lovely Rule of Three as a starting point- to write the attempts at solving the problem, etc.
Then the kids made up their own characters, made them out of modeling clay, drew them, danced the Cha Cha Slide, and ate chocolate.
Cha Cha Slide. Come on, you know you want to click this link.
Oh, and then I raffled off twenty-some books and other prizes. And then we wrote some more.
I think it was a success! I’m going back in next week for a different presentation with older kids. I’ll keep you all posted. 🙂
The most interesting part for me was figuring out where ideas come from. Seems they come from thinking about where ideas come from, because I TOTALLY got my next novel idea from doing this talk. WOOT!
News: My contributor’s copies for Pockets and Texas Poetry Calendar are here. They’re so purdy. Also, I’m heading off on a writer’s retreat Friday. I know what I’ll be working on now!