Try This! - Keep Track of Ideas as You Read

By Kathy Moore:

During summer, I focus on writing fiction. And to help breathe life into my characters, I keep track of ideas that resonate with me as I’m reading magazine articles, books, the travel section of the newspaper. I jot down words, phrases, sentences that I use for inspiration as I write. 

 Pay Attention to Coincidence
See the connection between what you do and what you read. 
An incomplete bird's nest and wabi-sabi = story magic.

Find Wisdom in Others' Words
"Are you really there?"
 is a question for a thoughtful character to explore.

Below you can read an excerpt from a story I was writing inspired by the pages of my summer journal:

Up ahead, at the edge of the path, a tiny bird-like woman came into view, madly waving her arms above her head. A small table was positioned in front of her, sparkling in the rapidly disappearing daylight. She seemed to sparkle too.

“For you precious – come see. For you,” she called out as we approached. Renee kept walking, ignoring her, but I turned around and stared at the strange woman shimmering there. She held my gaze and crooked a finger at me. “Come see, little one. I have just what you need.”

I let go of Renee’s arm and stepped off the path, drawn to the small table covered with strands of leather knots, silver chains and glass beads. The woman kept her eyes fixed on me. I could see myself reflected there as she held my gaze. “Try this,” she said handing me a necklace of polished, blood red stones. “This is Turkish glass - it belonged once to a princess. See how it showers you with beauty.” 

I obediently bent my head down and let her lift my ponytail to hook the strand at the nape of my neck. A shiver crawled down my spine.

The necklace felt cold and heavy against my skin. “Ah, how lovely,” she whispered, her wrinkled face breaking into a wide grin. I turned around to show Renee but she was gone. Then a hand brushed my cheek like a feather. 

Glue Pictures and Drawings in Your Notebook
These stairs needed to become part of my story's setting!

Sometimes these journal entries work their way into my stories as the setting, sometimes they become poems, and sometimes they just wait inside my journal for just the right moment.

Make Sure to Read Everything - Even Signs
You never know when you can work one into a story you're writing.

Jot Words and Phrases from Newspaper Articles. 
They can be turned into poetry too!

Pay attention as you read.  See what strikes you.  A writer never knows when he or she will use notes taken during an inspirational reading, lecture, or time of life.  We must always be alert.  Take notes as you read, and let those notes seep into your stories and other writing.


Kathy has served in the role of Poet Laureate for the City of San Ramon, California since 2012 and has written and performed jazz poetry with Lady K. and the Kings of Swing and choreographed poetry with the Jumpin’ at the Sun Dance Company. You can find her on Twitter at @wordcrazy.


To go back to the list of all Try This! ideas, click HERE.
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