Where Do You Get Your Ideas?  It’s a question every writer has heard.  And the honest answer is that I’m not so sure.  But I can tell you that the plotting process begins in my subconscious long before I sit down at the computer.  Inevitably, I’m flipping through a magazine, glancing at the ads and articles and before I know it there are images from the magazine that just connect to characters buried in my imagination.  I can’t tell you why an image fits a character only that it does.  Over the years I’ve learned to trust the muse, rip out the pictures, paste them on a board and keep all the pictures close to my desk.

Little did I know that many writers do this.  Called collaging it is an effective way to begin building story characters. I spoke to my writer/artist friend Elizabeth Holcombe who has taught seminars on collaging for writers. What does Elizabeth advise?

1.  Tear out magazine images without thinking too much. Just tear out things that appeal to you. Go quickly. Sort through them later.

2.  Lay out your images, overlapping them, cutting them, tearing them for rough edges, and look to see common ground in them. Do they relate to one another in some way?

3.  Paste or tape images onto poster board, loosely putting them in groups (hero, heroine, setting, emotions–yes, some images may just evoke emotions). If you’ve done this without laboring over the process, freeing your mind, you will be happily surprised at what comes from your creative visual chaos.

Elizabeth has created some great works of collage art.  I can’t claim the same.  But I’ve come to love collaging and now can’t pick up a magazine without looking for characters.  So if you’re stuck, looking for inspiration, or just want to have fun, grab a stack of magazines and start ripping.

Want more info on collaging? Visit Elizabeth Holcombe’s blog at http://elizabethholcombe.typepad.com/elizabeth_holcombe_whimsi/2007/03/altered_book_ar.html.


This is the collage board for I’M WATCHING YOU, DEAD RINGER, and Christmas Past in the SILVER BELLS anthology.

This is the collage board for I’M WATCHING YOU, DEAD RINGER, and "Christmas Past" in the SILVER BELLS anthology.