Where Do You Get Your Ideas

My writing group has started a path based on the Writing Excuses podcast exercises for the year. The first exercise was coming up with five story ideas based on: a conversation, research, exploring space, a media, and a song. I’m late getting started—I was really focused on editing last month for the Editing Path I led—and I’m not really interested in writing a short story, which is the path’s goal. But, I am interested in coming up with good scenes for book three in my series, French Influences.

Yesterday, when I prepared to edit, I found myself wanting to go into work instead. Years ago, I started work at 7:00, so I could work my five hours and pick up my daughter for the afternoon. But those days are long gone, although I am back to working part-time. Most of the people I work with arrive at nine or later, and early morning is my prime writing time so I like to use it for my fiction. Lately, that’s been editing French Immersion. But yesterday I started working on the exercises. They were a lot of fun, although not exactly action-packed, which is something I should work on, I think. Since the next series of exercises refines the original ideas, I hope that will happen.

The idea that I like the best came from an article on color that I read about how having words for something shapes reality. Some languages don’t distinguish between blue and green. The Himba of northern Namibia have six color categories compared to the English eleven. In a color study by Debi Roberson and Rick Hanley of the University of Essex, the Himba could find one green square in a circle of squares that was slightly different from the others. The Himba have different words for shades that in English are classified as green. However, the Himba language doesn’t distinguish between blue and green. They have a hard time finding the one blue-green square in a circle of green squares. But the blue-green square practically leaps out for English-speakers.

Since Miriam is an American living in Paris, I can use differences in French-English to highlight differences the American living in Paris has found. (She speaks fluent French.)

Interesting how that one idea has led to several more.

About Katherine Lato

Writer, thinker, observer and participant in life.
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