28 March 2012

Hunting for Ideas

Hello everyone! Did you miss me? :) What? You didn't? What a buncha-ANYhoo, I've been MIA for the last few weeks because I just purchased a house and have been trying to whip it into shape. Between that, work for my Master's Degree, my day job, and everything else (Lent is rough, dontcha know?) blogging has taken a bit of a back seat.

Well, now I'm back (in black)!

Today's fine topic: Idea Hunting.

I read about the The Idea Hunter on the Forbes website. The book, written by Bill Fischer, Andy Boyton, and William Bole, is about the literal and figurative hunt for ideas. They talk finding your gig - what you want to do - and then actively searching for ideas from numerous different areas, especially areas that aren't even related to what you want to do. The book is based around their I-D-E-A model: Interested, Diverse, Exercised, and Agile. Throughout the book they give numerous examples, from Thomas Edison and Walt Disney, to Steve Jobs. It's a very quick read (and only took up about four pages, front and back, in my personal notebook), and, while it doesn't give you all the answers, it does help the reader form a rough framework from which they can work on discovering ideas.

I'd like to note here that the previous paragraph is a very brief, bare-bones synopsis of the book and I highly recommend reading it to get the full effect. It's $12.99 in the Kindle store.

The Idea Hunt isn't just for businesses, which the book is more geared toward. The authors say that this can be used for anything you're trying to do.

And what are we trying to do here, more often than not? Well I'm here to write...and make money. But mostly write (money is nice, too).

So where am I going with this? And why don't I have any pants on? Well I can't explain the lack of pants (or why I feel groggy, or why I'm bruised all over). The point is that the Idea Hunt is perfect for we writers. Some writers may already have this down pat. Think of all the writers that want to write about something and do endless research...that leads to research in another area, which leads to research in five other areas. But for us normal types - we self-supporting, hard working, bronze skinned, chissled muscle, self-published writers! - it can be an uncultivated art.

For example, say you're writing a sci-fi novel (NO WAI! you say. WAI! I say.), and say you wish to mirror Heinlein in that all space technology is founded deeply in fact, or clearly proveable theory. A good start would be to research how rockets work. And you want your rocket to go somewhere, right? So you'll have to research the bodies within our solar system and how they work.
Now that you're researching the rocket and planets, you research engine types and fuels, which leads you to researching a lot of science. This could bring an idea for characters! Maybe a rocket engineer chief. And how does the piloting of that rocket change when landing on, say Mars? Or Titan? Or on an asteroid? How are the fuel and components of the rocket affected on different planets and moons?
Or how is the rocket built? Who builds it? What's the process that organization has to go through to liscence, build, and sell/operate that rocket? What departments and individuals within and outside the organization are involved? What are the roles and responsibilities of their jobs? How and do they all interact in a business sense?

See all that? That's the beginning of ideas flowing. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. As you write MORE ideas will come to you, and MORE research will have to be done.

So where do I get MY ideas?

Robert A. Heinlein, for one. He is, without a doubt, my favorite author with all perpatuity throughout the universe. His sci-fi, specifically, is what pushed me to get serious about writing sci-fi.
BattleTech was next. BattleTech is the epitome of giant robot/power armor future combat. The stories and the tabletop game started swirling ideas into my head since I was 13.
Aliens (note the "s") with its colonial marines. Warhammer and Warhmmer 40K (BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD! I mean...yeah!). StarCraft, WarCraft, Command and Conquer.

Real life is a HUGE influence on my ideas. SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and other private space companies make me very hopeful for a future where humanity lives and operates throughout the solar system, and I hope more private space companies enter the market...and take me to the Moon and Mars. Many of the ideas coming out of this rising industry fuel my ideas for what I write, even if it is just hyper-ventalating optimism.

But there are a lot of non-space and -science related sources I draw from, too.

The Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Fortune, Inc. Magazine, and other business sources that I use to augment my day job and help increase my personal knowledge add to my writing. Some of the ideas expressed in the Harvard Business Review had directly impacted how I'm shaping the Olympus Mons Technocracy for the next novel (DUN DUN DUN! Spoilers!).

Finally, personal experience and learning go into a lot of what I write. My experience in contracting and purchasing influences how I write about deals (see DER STERNVOLKER). And the education I'm going through now - my Master's degree and soon-to-be studying for my Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) from the Institute for Supply Management - influences me in what professions I write my characters into and how they interact (such as in the upcoming FREE short story RUN).

The point is to look everywhere for ideas, both in writing and in whatever your industry is. Search for ideas in other, non-related areas that could give you new insights and inspire new ways of doing things in your writing or job. And I recommend The Idea Hunter for everyone.

Until next time...

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