Ideas Are All Around Us
By Aleesah Darlison
A great story often starts with a simple idea.
Ideas for stories bombard me each and every day.
Ideas are everywhere I go. In everything I see and do. And in everything I hear.
If you’re interested in writing stories, you can find ideas in the world around you too.
You see, stories abound in all the many subtle nuances of our life – you just have to keep your eyes and ears and mind open to them.
And then, of course, once you have them you need to keep them.
Ideas can be like butterflies floating on the breeze, fragile and zippy, here one minute and gone the next.
Collecting your ideas in one place is always a good … well, idea. You may not use them today. You may not use them tomorrow. But one day, when you’re scratching around for something to write, trying to find inspiration to breathe renewed life into your lacklustre first draft, those little ideas that you collected days, weeks, months or even years ago will come to your rescue.
I run loads of writing workshop for children and adults, many of which focus on collecting ideas. Discovering and expanding on ideas are two of the most difficult processes that face writers of all genres. Yet they shouldn’t be.
Why? Because collecting ideas is fun! And if you learn a few basic techniques for the collection of ideas, it makes your story writing that much easier and enjoyable too. It doesn’t matter if you’re an adult or a child, these simple story idea collection techniques apply to everyone.
Here are just a few of my best tips for those wanting to discover the ideas that exist in the world around them:
- Keep a book in your bag or on your desk and add something to it each day. This might be a thought or an observation; a sign you’ve seen; details of a poster; a drawing or photo; a newspaper article or comic. Anything you like.
- Visit a café or shopping mall and sit somewhere you can see other people. Write down details of people you see who interest you. What do they look like? How do they walk? What are they wearing? Who are they with? Record conversations you overhear.
- Go for a walk along the beach. Take your notebook or phone/voice recorder with you. Start walking and let your mind wander. Record things you see, think, hear. You might even be lucky and have storylines or characters reveal themselves to you as you walk. This is one of my favourite ways to get ideas flowing.
- Think back to when you were a child (this is a particularly good exercise if you’re writing for children). Write down ten places you went to that were fun. They might have been everyday places where you lived or they might have been places you visited on holidays. Expand on your list by adding details of what you liked, or didn’t like, about each place.
- Select one of your ideas or images and use it to create a mind map. Put the word or image in a circle in the middle of your page and then write or draw any ideas that come to mind in branches connected to the main circle. Mind mapping is also called brainstorming and I find it’s a fabulous way to kick-start ideas into solid storylines.
There are many more ways you can collect ideas for stories, but these are a great start for beginning writers.
Happy Idea Hunting Everyone!
Aleesah’s latest release is a picture book titled Zoo Ball. It’s a humorous, rhyming story about a boy called Ned who takes his ball to the zoo and then promptly loses it! This is where all the animals get into the action, passing the ball around, and it’s also where the fun and frivolity starts…
‘Don’t bounce that ball, Ned,’ Mum warned.
‘Don’t bounce that ball at all.’
‘We’re at the zoo to see animals today,’ Dad said.
‘So put the ball away.’
But Ned didn’t listen to Mum or to Dad.
Instead he bounced and bounced and
BOUNCED the ball he had.
He bounced it low, he bounced it high,
He bounced it right into the sky…
Zoo Ball is a very original book in that it’s illustrated completely by Australian school children. The publisher, Wombat Books, developed a competition that was entered by students across Australia. Each entrant could choose to illustrate a single page or double page spread of the book. Winners for each page were chosen and the overall winning entrant also got to illustrate the front cover. In this way, the competition and the book has created twenty-three new, young published illustrators.
Aleesah had this to say about the inaugural Wombat Books Illustration Challenge:
“It’s been a fantastic initiative and it’s really blown me away to see how talented children are,” Aleesah said. “It’s my hope that, given this start in picture book illustration at a young age, some of these illustrators will go on to become picture book illustrators when they grow up.”
And now a little bit about Aleesah….
Aleesah Darlison is an award-winning Australian children’s author who writes picture books, chapter books and novels. Her much-loved stories promote courage, understanding, anti-bullying, self-belief, friendship, teamwork and environmental themes. In 2015, she won the Environment Award for Children’s Literature (Non-Fiction) for her picture book, Our Class Tiger. In 2012, she was shortlisted for the same award for her picture book, Warambi.
Since commencing her writing journey six years ago, Aleesah has written over thirty-five books including Zoo Ball, Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine, Awesome Animal Stories for Kids, the Netball Gems Series, the Unicorn Riders Series, the Totally Twins Series, Ash Rover: Keeper of the Phoenix, Little Good Wolf, Puggle’s Problem, Little Meerkat, Spidery Iggy, and Mama and Hug.
Travelling throughout Australia and overseas, Aleesah delivers talks and workshops to children and adults at preschools, schools, libraries, bookstores, literary festivals and writers’ centres. She is currently Director of the NSW Writers’ Centre Kids and YA Literary Festival. When Aleesah isn’t creating entertaining and enchanting stories, she’s usually looking after her four very energetic and imaginative children.
For information about Aleesah’s creative writing workshops and author talks, visit her website at:
or check her out on Facebook:
To purchase copies of Zoo Ball, visit the Wombat Books website: