Prepared by: Patricia Johnson, and updated by Pam Hauck.
Posted on: Sun, 10 Oct 2004
Where do we get our ideas for a story?
Inspiration can come from
from our own life experiences, or from creative works of others. If we
inspired by someone else's work, we have to consider their rights.
we use must be made into our own original work. Picasso was famous for
borrowing ideas from other's works and from the world around him. If we
at his paintings, we can see the influence of his study of African
Greek art. Picasso took an idea and instead of making a copy, he used
talent and creativity to make it his own.
Writers borrow ideas from all aspects of
life to turn into fresh new
One example is Jane Smiley's novel A Thousand Acres. Her novel is based
Shakespeare's King Lear, but has been updated to a modern Iowa family's
struggle to keep their farm. It is so original and imaginative that it
received a Pulitzer Prize. Another example would be the recent movie by
Coen brothers titled O Brother Where Art Thou? This is based on Homer's
Odyssey. This update takes place in America's Deep South with the
of prison escapees during the depression. Although the original ideas
the Odyssey are present in the story, it is definitely not Homer's
Poems can succinctly express ideas that are often found in novels.
a power in poetry to evoke a whole story in a very few words. Since
sentence of a poem is saturated with meaning, it is easy to find enough
material for a story within even a short poem. This exercise will
a poem or song lyric into an original story.
Examples of poems that translate well into
stories include lyrics to
children's nursery rhymes, ballads, historical poems, and poems based
legends like the poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'. Read it in the
exercise titled 'Everyone's A Poet' archived at Practice-W:
exercise for poetry information that will help you in preparing this
A helpful article on poetry appreciation is at the Borzoi Reader,
Kenneth Koch. Here is the URL:
If you do not have a poem or song in mind,
you may wish to select
- Shakespeare's Sonnet 43 at Bartleby.com
- Emily Dickinson's Poem 48 at Bartleby.com
- William Wordsworth at Bartleby.com http://www.bartleby.com/106/251.html
If you use copyrighted material, mention
the poem/song that was the
of inspiration, but do not type it in the submission. If you choose a
follow this public domain rule: most compositions registered between
and 1922 are in the public domain even though they are not yet 95 years
Songs after 1922 are copyrighted.
For Public Domain information, visit this
Exercise: Use one of your own poems, song
lyrics, or another
to write a fresh and unique story. You can use an extracted portion of
song or poem or the whole work, keeping in mind that your story will
length constraints. From the original work, find at least three
that are central to the poem and rework these into your own creative
Don't list the reference points. Leave it up to critiquers to find
for a story of about 300 words. Follow all copyright laws.
Critiques: When you critique a story,
mention at least three
central to the poem that were reworked into the story. Comment on how
the poem's devices translate into story form. Critique whether or not
main idea of the original poem is at the heart of the new story; and
other characteristics from the poem might be incorporated into the
Have fun, remember, we are all poets!
Pam Hauck 's
Posted on: Sat, 16 Oct 2004
Thanks to all who participated and helped
make this week's exercise
Everyone did a great job developing a
story using reference points
poem or song lyrics. Some stories stuck close to the original poem or
Others used the three reference points and let the story take on a life
Even after a revision, this remains a
complicated exercise. Once
there was somewhat of a misunderstanding with the directions. We will
"Comment on how well the poem's devices translate into story form"
run this again. The objective of the exercise is to create a new story
the three reference points, not to use the same devices.
Hopefully, the submissions and critiques
have helped all of us learn
about where we can find ideas for characters and stories.
I appreciate everyone's response and wish
you all the best with your
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.