I get a lot of story ideas from songs, other books, movies, paintings…a plot, character, or emotion will spark an idea, and suddenly I have a germ of a story, nestled in infancy, waiting to be joined to others and make up enough matter for materialization. And then there are the stories of dreams…

On a night, much like any other night, I’ll have a strong, memorable dream where characters, plots, and emotions seem to come from nowhere, fully-formed and ready to grace the page. I may not have enough plot for a full novel, and I may not have all the characters, but I am instantly given powerful, often visual details: who the main characters are, how they feel about each other, and how they look (hair color, height, mannerisms). Dream characters are like ready-made garments: I don’t have to work that much to define them, since they come to me in clarity.

The actual writing of these characters still takes work, though. In dreams, the action flows without any need for words, but in a novel, words are all I have. I can’t just show readers what I saw in my dream. Most of the time, I can’t even use what happened in the dream. I have to take the character’s essence and put them through the same writing process as any other character, exploring their motives and their world until I can accurately write their story. The dream just serves as a jump start. Everything else is the glorious craftsmanship of writing.

What about you? Where does your creativity come from? Do you have a favorite source, or do you just keep an open mind to everything you encounter?

Copyright 2014 Andrea Lundgren

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