The idea fairy, of course.
Mighty Mite (age 6) was tasked with completing 4 lines of written work, resembling a paragraph, for his Wednesday Writing homework. If the teachers thought using alliteration would make the 1st grader more excited about writing, they were wrong. Might Mite loathes writing. Abhors it. Would rather roll his eyes at me for a half an hour than apply his pencil to the paper.
But ideas? He has plenty of those.
I suggested he write about cats, and the idea factory in his Mighty Pea Brain started pumping out the sentences. I’ve had cats on my mind (and on my back, and my pillow, and munching on my toes). Seriously, what’s up with the toes, kittens? They don’t wiggle that much.
Coming up with ideas for stories, or plot twists, or scintillating dialogue, is a matter of exercising the creative part of your brain that seemingly makes something out of nothing. I’m convinced it’s like any other muscle, requiring regular usage to stay nimble. It is fascinating to watch the midgets and their nearly constant production of new ideas.
As we discussed before, the ideas aren’t (usually) revolutionary – the kids use the raw materials of their everyday lives, and the stories that weave through them, to dream up the next big adventure for their mini-figures or plush animals or, if they’re very unlucky, the cats (Payback is heck. I’m just sayin’.)
Writers are like children – in many ways, only one of which we will discuss here today. All writers, but especially children’s writers, need to tap into that essential creativity of childhood. The whimsy that says “well, what if a cyborg landed in our living room in the middle of dinner?” One of my blogging writer friends said she keeps a picture of her 10 year old self next to her computer, to remind herself of what it felt like to be a child. That speaks to me. Writing for children isn’t just about getting inside the head of your 13 year old protagonist. It’s about reclaiming the creative possibilities of youth, when the world truly was unknown, and it was quite probable that aliens were camped out on the moon. We just haven’t been able to get good pictures yet. Because, you know, they’re on the dark side.