Orson Scott Card says we all have an idea shelf. A place our mind goes when we need something for our stories: a character, a plot tension, a setting. We don't realize that we reach for our easy ideas first, just like standing on tiptoes to reach something in a kitchen cupboard. We need to keep searching for the truly unique and special. Never settle for your first idea, he says. Unless, of course, it turns out to be the best one.
With that in mind, I've been keeping a notebook where I jot down things I come across in my daily life. I'm hoping this will expand my own idea shelf so I can create more compelling stories. And if that doesn't work, at least it keeps me entertained.
Here are five items from this summer's shelf:
1. The person who found ways to get into nearly a hundred homes in my neighborhood and tour them in depth (closets,cupboards, bathrooms) all on the spur of the moment. Only one person denied access, and that was for a second tour.
2. The young lady giving a loud an in-depth aura reading at the public library. Something about "your mother's color comes across as gold, very gold." Yet Mom wasn't there--I think they were reading an email she wrote.
3. The gorgeous Russian sailing ship Pallada which docked in Seattle. Though it holds the Guinness Record for Fastest Sailing Vessel, it only goes 18.8 knots. Really? Only 20 mph?? Why did I think sailing was so much faster? The signs we couldn't decipher were the best part although the signs with English translations sounded amazing when read in your head with a Russian accent, "On July, 1989 the Russian flag was hoisted on her board."
4. The boy with the cat's eye pupils. He was born with them.
5. The names Valaura (Velora) and Venicia (sounds like Venitian).
So check out your own idea shelves and start looking around for more material. It's out there.