An Idea for an Idea

Last night I was searching for an idea about what I should write for this blog.  As I tucked my kids into bed, I asked my son if he had any ideas on what I should write.  Desperate, I told him it could be about anything.  He promptly replied that I should write about all the ways I’m going to embarrass him in May. 

I was invited to talk to his English class about publishing books, and I guess it’s not cool to have your mom come to school when you’re a 7th grader :)  When he first heard the news about my visit, he asked me NOT to say hi to him when I’m at school – I agreed to NOT say hi, telling him I would just give him a big hug and kiss when I saw him.  Interesting how NOW I can say hello to my own son ;>

Even though we thought up at least ten different ways of potential embarrassment, I didn’t think it was blog worthy….er….yeah, I know….so I then asked my 10 year-old daughter.  Did I say I was desperate??  She’s the one who came up with the nifty title of this post – she said I needed an idea for an idea.  Then commented the word idea sounded like a woman’s name. A woman who lived in India, and, because my daughter watches way too many cartoons on TV (tsk, tsk – her mother’s a writer – what can you do?), she said the woman has a light bulb on her forehead instead of a red dot (I rushed to explain the religious significance of the bindi).  Then we brainstormed about this woman, coming up with a pretty cool story about her.  (and it should be noted, my daughter managed to extend her official bedtime by 30 minutes).

My point? you ask.  Well… I have gotten many good writing ideas from my children.  I’ve been harvesting tidbits in my notebook since they could talk.  Their comments on everyday items or events have led me to wonder, too.  And all good fantasy stories have that sense of wonder component.

Some examples:  Riding in the car – my son, age 6 claimed he could touch the sky.  My daughter replies with the confidence of a 4 year old that he can’t touch the sky – it’s too high.  Two seconds later, she asks, “What does the sky feel like?”  Well – I do have a BS degree in Meteorology and could explain – but that wouldn’t be any fun.  Instead, we speculated on how the sky would feel – which led to a SF story with a “touchable” sky.

Another time my son asked “How do you turn the colors on?”  Again a dry discourse on physics…blah… more fun to invent ways to turn colors on.  When my daughter stated she “wasn’t going to speak to me in a million weeks,” there was a pause then, “how long is a million weeks?”  (19,230.8 years – for the curious)  Which led to a plot point in my YA SF book coming out next year.

And I loved her metaphor comparing her stomach to a hotel. After dinner one night, she proclaimed each room in her stomach was full – except one.  That room was reserved for dessert.  Not bad for an 8 year old.

I’m sure I’m not the only writer who has gotten ideas from children.  Anyone care to share a story?

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  1. 1. Marie Brennan

    I used to claim the compartmentalized stomach, too, though I never went so far as to make it a hotel.

    I bet a lot of kids do that.

  2. 2. Mary Robinette Kowal

    My niece talked about the dessert corner of her stomach.

    Have fun embarrassing your son. For me a major turning point in becoming an adult was when I stopped worrying about if my dad was going to embarrass me and just started wondering when.

  3. 3. Laura

    Still being a newbie ( and will be for probably the next couple of years) I have gotten through some of my first writers blocks with the help of my children.

    My kids are young adults, 21 and 19 respectively and both have great imaginations. My son is an adved D&D player and my daughter is into dragons.

    Even now if I can’t get through something, I’ll bounce the idea off which ever kid is at home.

  4. 4. Karen Wester Newton

    Well, I understand L. Frank Baum made up the Oz stories for his kids, so I guess that’s one example of a writer using his kids. I think Neil Gaiman has said his kids give him ideas.

    When my son (now 24) was about 5 or 6 he came downstairs one Saturday and started looking in the closet. I asked him what he was looking for. He explained he wanted to find the magic scarf he had used to fly to his Aunt Robin’s house in Boston. I explained to him he had been dreaming, but it was years before he believed me.

    I never tried to write about it, though. I write YA as well as adult, but I thought a magic scarf was a little young for YA.

  5. 5. Tez Miller

    Here’s hoping the kids don’t sue you when they’re older for nicking their ideas ;-)

    Have a lovely day! :-)

  6. 6. Erin

    LOL. That’s so cute. I love how little kids are so imaginative and have such a way of asking a question that could be about the most silliest, weirdest thing.

    As for a story, my cousin who is 10 had a school project where she had to ask a family member to make up a story about her paper doll named Silly Sally. My mom volunteered to write the story and around that time my parents and I were going to an aquarium. We actually brought Silly Sally with us and took a couple of pictures (oh yes some people would look at us as if we were some nutjobs). To make long story short, my mom made up an adventure about that day and how Silly Sally made alot of friends. (My step-dad took a picture of Silly Sally getting eating by a shark that swam by in the tank. Thank god my cousin never saw it. My step-dad has a sick sense of humor :) )

Author Information

Maria V. Snyder

Maria V. Snyder has been writing fiction and nonfiction since 1995. She has published numerous freelance articles in magazines and newspapers. Her first published novel, Poison Study appeared on the shelves in 2005, and chronicles Yelena’s challenges in surviving her dangerous job as a food taster. Magic Study follows with Yelena’s efforts to learn about her magic while searching for a rogue magician turned serial killer. Fire Study chronicles Yelena's adventures with a Fire Warper and was released in March 2008. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Maria earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology at Penn State University. Much to Maria’s chagrin, forecasting the weather wasn’t one of her skills. Writing, however, proved to be more enjoyable and Maria earned a Master of Arts degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. As part of her research for her Study novels, Maria signed up for a glass blowing class to learn how to shape molten glass. The first thing she learned is it is considerably harder to sculpt glass than it looks. Maria now has an extensive collection of misshapened paperweights, tumblers, and bowls. When she’s not traveling, Maria lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, son, daughter and yellow Lab. She is working on her next MIRA novel, Storm Glass, due out Spring 2009. Readers are welcome to contact Maria by e-mail at, or they can find more information on her Web site at Visit site.



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