View Full Version : Ideas for stories

The Backward OX
04-07-2010, 08:55 AM
Is an aptitude or flair for story ideas inborn or acquired? Is it nature or nurture? Can you support your hypothesis and if so how?

04-07-2010, 09:37 AM
I think it can be both, actually, in the same way that one's personality is a result of both nature and nurturing; a lot of writers I know are just naturally observant people--the kind who sit and wonder 'what if' about everything they read, or see, or hear; and that is where story ideas come from (at least that's where mine come from).

That being said, I think it's also possible to 'train' yourself to be more observant, and to see things with a writer's eye (to an extent) ... and in that regard I guess one would be nurturing their idea-generating abilities.

Or something like that, lol. I'm suffering from lack of sleep at the moment, so maybe I'm not making any sense...Interesting question, though. :)

04-07-2010, 03:05 PM
I think it's a combination of all of the above.

04-07-2010, 04:06 PM
Is an aptitude or flair for story ideas inborn or acquired? Is it nature or nurture? Can you support your hypothesis and if so how?

I'm not sure that story ideas are very important. The important skill is to turn anything into a story.
Some people 'get' stories - often they are the ones who have read a lot as children. I teach CW and there are some people who write quite well but have nothing to say in story terms. They can string sentences together but they never go anywhere. It is rarely a lack of ideas more a lack of story sense.

So to answer something close to your question. I don't know if story telling is an acquired or an inborn skill, but if you haven't got it by the time you are an adult it is hard to teach. Ideas are not the most important thing.

04-07-2010, 04:55 PM
Is an aptitude or flair for story ideas inborn or acquired? Is it nature or nurture?


Can you support your hypothesis and if so how?

No. That's like asking me to nail Jello to a wall.

04-07-2010, 05:05 PM
The vast majority of people get ideas as part of their daily life. People with an interest and/or talent for writing will see them as ideas for stories. People with an interest in business, other arts, sports, whatever, will see them as ideas for whatever they're interested in. I think that's just part of being human.

What happens to the ideas afterward is a mix of skill and instinct, depending on how much talent and interest the person has for the process and, frankly, how good they feel the idea is.

Ideas are a dime a dozen, as the saying goes. It's what you do with them that makes all the difference in the world.

And that's not my "hypothesis". That's my experience.

04-07-2010, 05:17 PM
If truth be told I write because I find it hillarious that someone pays me to tell lies.

04-07-2010, 05:28 PM
Depends on how you write, I use internal pondering to create rough frameworks, and then fill in the holes using a lot of stuff from the real world.

04-07-2010, 05:31 PM
I think people who have nurtured themselves as writers, through a natural (inborn) writerly tendency, naturally tend to take conversations and situations and think of nurturing them into a story.

04-07-2010, 05:32 PM
A little more seriously...

I think some of us have an innate aptitude for certain things and practice allows us to develop those talents.

Others, well, will never get there regardless of how hard they strive.

For example, I can't draw to save my life. Even my stick figures are pathetic. Monkeys can out-paint me. I could try for a million years and never improve. And yet coming up with story ideas is something I do naturally, and I hone those skills on a daily basis.

Can I prove it in some quantifiable way that would suit a more scientific mind? No, I really can't. Some things are immeasurable with our current technology. And maybe some things just are. I don't really see a need to stick a value on everything. Not everything needs to be torn down and inspected. Not everything can be.

04-07-2010, 05:35 PM
There was a time where I had to squeeze a story idea out of my imagination, and it was hard.

Now, with more and more experience in writing, I find ideas popping into my head faster than I can write them down. I've got my next 4 novels all plotted out, and neither of them are connected in any way.

04-07-2010, 05:44 PM
Is an aptitude or flair for story ideas inborn or acquired? Is it nature or nurture? Can you support your hypothesis and if so how?

Being hyperactive I'm sure helps. I've always been hyperactive. Maybe I'm not more clever or creative than others, I just have a constant and never ending stream of ideas forcing their way out of my brain. Most are shit. But there's occasional nuggets of gold in that flow of garbage. That's pretty innate, ie nature.

But I do believe reading a lot is more critical. That's nurture. I believe creativity is the act of combining two or more earlier known things in a novel way. I base this opinion on research done at Stockholm University by the psychology researcher Judith Simon. The research is to my knowledge only available in Swedish at this time. Anyway, that requires having been exposed to the ideas to combine with to begin with.

So basically, what I believe is that the more you read (nurture) and the more you combine ideas, based on your basic brain chemistry (nature) and available time (life planing) the better stories you'll make.

I don't believe purely novel ideas exist. I don't believe anybody just invents anything out of thin air. The ingredients need to get into the head first for anything new to emerge.

04-07-2010, 05:52 PM
Is an aptitude or flair for story ideas inborn or acquired? Is it nature or nurture? Can you support your hypothesis and if so how?

Inborn or acquired? Talent or skill? I don't know, but probably both. Either way, ideas should be the easy part. I can't recall who said it, but I do remember the quotation: "If you have to ask how to write, that's normal. If you have to ask what to write, you're in the wrong profession."

I believe this.

I don't know about supporting a hypothesis, but I do know anything and everything is a worthy idea. You should be able to get enough ideas in a week to last you a lifetime.

It's turning an idea into a good, publishable story that takes both talent and skill. Execution is everything.

04-07-2010, 06:02 PM
Steven Pinker makes the claim that the need to tell and hear stories is an inbuilt feature in all humans, and is one of the few things that sets us apart from other apes. Its the one thing that is truly unique for us. So that's nature, but would be strong in all humans, and is a social thing. Ones ability to tell a story has to be matched by a responders ability to understand it, or care. I'm not sure this ability is necessarily nature. It could be either way, or both.