Kids love to know where stories come from, and they often ask authors where we get our ideas in visits.
I love this question. For one thing, ideas can come from anywhere, and it’s a lot of fun to show kids how stories can spring from their everyday lives. What’s more, it’s also fun to show kids how they can deliberately seek out stories using inspiration from art, music, pictures, and more.
My soon-to-be-published book, The Game of Love and Death, is one that came from both my own experience and from external inspiration. I was at one point stuck on a different book, and a friend sent me a vintage photo and told me to write a story about the people in it. I was amazed at what came out, and really came to like using the technique, which is one that can be adopted for classrooms. It works equally well for nonfiction and fiction, and also shows how research can be leveraged in storytelling.
The Game of Love and Death is set in 1937, a year when a government agency took a lot of photos of houses and businesses as part of an economic stimulus project. It was a lucky thing, and there are many, many ways to find images to serve any kind of writing project.
Here are a few pictures I looked at as I worked, trying to get a sense for the clothing and lighting and facial expressions and other details that revealed a bit about the time. They can also be mined for possible characters (although I had mine and didn’t need the help there).