Where do ideas come from? And how can we develop them?
By Wasan Grabe
An idea is a term that refers to a concept, intention or a point of view, which comes from the relationship between the use of our senses and the outside world by reading, watching and critical thinking. Not surprisingly, finding an idea is not a big deal because they are all around us. Sometimes an idea comes easily while, for instance, walking, doing exercises or even in the bathroom, but what is important, to know is how to use, put questions and examine ideas.
Reading, undoubtedly, is a crucial resource to stimulate ideas such as reading news on newspapers, magazines, government and scientific websites. Similarly, journals can provide ideas that although may not be original but at least have been verified by professionals through peer review.
Another significant aspect of finding ideas is through people by listening to stories, conversations, incidents and interviewing researchers, asking them what is new or interesting in their discipline. A meeting, whether big or small, provides a reasonable source of information which can generates ideas from interactions and discussions.
Furthermore, visual media such as TV, have been playing a big role in giving ideas that lead to change. In India for example, Levitt and Dubner write in Superfreakonomics that the introduction of cable TV changed the life of Indian women. Cable television led to a reduction in birth rate and increased level of education.
So after finding an idea, how can we develop it?
There are many aspects should be remembered. Firstly, using the five W`s questions and H (What, Who, When, Where, Why and How). Secondly, story elements such as background, individuality, conflict, action and suspense, help to develop a good story.
More importantly, thinking critically and deeply about a story in order to find ways for making the story as conversational and especially in touch with a person’s life.
Thirdly, taking into account reading other news that might have covered the same story, that helps to provide details such as how the situation has changed.
Finally, explain some relevant issues followed by facts, results of studies with some statistics to grab the attention of the reader and to engage him/her with the story. For instance, Levitt and Dubner in their book Superfreakonomics develop a story about Indian women`s lives, they write:
“It is especially unlucky to be born female, because many Indian parents express a strong ‘son preference’. Only 10 percent of Indian families with two sons want another child, whereas nearly 40 percent of families with two daughters want to try again”
In conclusion, ideas come from printed and online media, people, meetings and studies. Finding ideas is not difficult, but how they are used and developed is the most important. To turn them into innovative stories requires deep and creative thinking.
Blum, Deborah, Mary Knudson, and Robin Henig. “Finding Story Ideas and Sources.” In A Field Guide for Science Writers, 1-10. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Levitt, Steven, and Stephen Dubner. “Introduction:Putting The Freak In Economics.” In Superfreakonomics, 7. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.