How do writers get their ideas? This is a huge, diverse question . To start, you have to often ask writers. Most often, they come to me in a blinding flash; with a flurry sometimes I hardly have time to write them down. One time I was carrying the groceries, and dropped them in the doorway as I ran, grabbing a piece of paper to write down my ideas. Another time I woke up from a dream; finishing it as I was waking up. I didn’t want it to stop. I got up, grabbed my laptop, and by the time my first cup of coffee for the morning was done, I’d written the first scene of a new story.The best way to get ideas is from your own experience. With my first book, The Lost Secret of Fairies, I drew my ideas from experiences as a kid. The big inspiration for the book was playing in the orchard behind my house growing up. Often, we put a ladder against the fence, climbed over, and ran about through the outer edge of the four acre orchard. At the time, it was known as the Santa Clara Valley. Orchards criss-crossed over the entire area that now have some of the top computer and Internet companies.
As a kid, there was nothing better than climbing up a tree and eating cherries just as they were ripening. We’d come up with exploring adventures that would take us through the orchard, into the creek, and travel beyond the freeway to see what lay beyond. Often, it was the next neighborhood or over-crossing for the freeway. But it was exploring beyond your own backyard, the best kind of kid adventure.The other partner in my adventures was my cat. Often, I would sit in the orchard, and he would wander out to find me. I’d make a reading nest by mashing down the mustard plants, hiding among yellow flowers. One day, Booford, came out to see me. His tail bounced high above the tops of the mustard flowers as I heard his meows. I would yell back, shouting, “Boo, I’m over here.” Using my voice as radar, he entered my reading bowery covered in mustard petals meowing so loud as if to say, “Why didn’t you make that much easier? You know I’m not that tall.”
My family say I captured his attitude and personality in the Crystal Keeper series. Booford is my real cat that inspired Brewford, the cat sorcerer. I simply just asked myself the question, “What if Booford could talk?” So, from then on, he did, in my books. My family say I captured his personality. His half eyed stares had the wisdom of Garfield. He was an incredible cat, and he still lives today in my books.
When you put it all together, writers are inspired by the world around them. Whether you use your own experiences, dreams, or it comes to you in a flash, ideas come from everywhere. There is a saying, “Be careful, you might end up in my next novel.” This is not only true, but the more you write, the more the real world around you ends up in your books. If you know a writer, you might be the inspiration and don’t know it. If you are a writer, you already have an idea of what I’m talking about. So get out there, and experience life and the world. It’s the best way to write.
**This is the first of a series of blog posts that help support a novel study unit for The Lost Secret of Fairies, the first book in the Crystal Keeper Series.
Common Core Standards-4th Grade
Reading Level: 4.6 AR Level
ELA CCS Speaking/Listening 4.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 4 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. (Discussion Question: How Do Authors Get Their Ideas?)
ELA CCS Reading/Literature 4.7 Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text.
ELA CCS Writing 3.b: Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.***Tiffany Turner has released her third book, The Lost Secret of Dragonfire, in her Crystal Keeper series. She continues to teach fourth graders in California while writing fantasy adventure middle grade novels. This is her 17th year of teaching. She is working on other writing projects in her No Limits Writing practices. She actively plays the Gaelic Harp at Renaissance festivals throughout Northern California.
**Follow to connect with more Common Core related blog posts over the next few months. Available for use in the classroom courtesy of Tiffany Turner.