This week, all five OA team members will provide our own thoughts, opinions, and experiences on - WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS.
I write MG. Some of these ideas are specific to MG. Others can be used for any category/genre. Remember to have a paper and pencil handy, or your phone notes app, to write the ideas that come to you.
1. Go to a local park. Observe and listen. Bring a book so you can pretend to read, which may help prevent 911 calls. If you're a guy, you might also need to bring (a) a young child or (b) a dog, altho this isn't a guarantee. My husband was reported to the police many times when our children were younger because A MAN was at the park with a child. Ugh. But if you can pull it off, it's worth it to learn what kids are currently doing and how they talk to each other.
2. Local amusement parks work great too, if you can afford the admission price.
3. If you're a school teacher or staff member, you have a great opportunity to observe and listen to kids. If you're a parent, volunteer to help in your child's classroom. Because of today's required security, this usually isn't an option for non-employees or those without young children.
4. Read MG [or whatever category/genre you write]. I get a LOT of ideas from reading MG books. In fact, this is the #1 way for me to find new ideas.
5. Fairy tale re-imaginings can be fun.
6. Read non-MG. I also get a LOT of ideas even when I'm reading picture books, or YA, or even adult.
7. Watch children's movies. This has been the second-most beneficial method for me to get ideas. Even older movies like Winnie the Pooh. Watch with your finger poised over the pause button. Sometimes I can't get more than 15 seconds before pausing to make a note of an idea.
8. I haven't had as much success with adult movies [NOT XXX movies, unless of course you're writing that] but your experience may be different.
9. Many MG writers get good ideas from watching children's TV shows but I can't stomach them.
10. Even when you're out in the "real world", keep your eyes and ears open. For example, when I was in the elevator at my previous employer, I suddenly wondered what it would be like to have a sentient elevator in a story. [That outline is about half finished =) ]
11. If you have kids in the relevant age range, observe, listen, and ask their opinions on things. Offer to chaperone outings [I see you rolling your eyes, but it's RESEARCH!].
12. Read the daily newspaper. Don't forget the comics section.
Here are a bunch of sites to check out!
Do you have more ideas? Let us know in the comments!