Monday, May 16, 2011

hunting for ideas

People always ask me how to get ideas for a story. I mentioned last time that you have to create a world, and the world I'm creating is the world of 18th century Japan, where Seikei lives. Now for the past week and a half I've been writing down ideas that come to me from reading about that world. Some people find this boring. To me, it's like fishing. You sit there a lot of the time with your line in the water, but no fish are biting. But you keep your line in the water.

I'm not going to put down here every idea I jotted down. That would be REALLY boring. But here's a page of notes I wrote while looking through a book written by a Dutch trader in Japan.
The Dutch were all thought to have red hair like the demons portrayed in Japanese art.
Some black men from India and Africa sailed with Dutch traders. Maybe first time Seikei sees one, he thinks the man has suffered terrible burns.
Chinese ships also docked at Nagasaki--maybe a Chinese character?
Bird painted on the sterns of ships to speed the journey and avoid shipwreck.
When ships approached the port, they signaled port officials with flags.
The ship fired a gun salute when arriving or departing. This was a signal to furl or raised their sails, done under cover of smoke. Seikei would never have seen this before
Komo-Ryu (school of Red Hairs): the Dutch
Namban-Ryu (school of the Southern Barbarians, the Portuguese, who originally arrived from their colonies to the South.
Dutch doctors were sometimes in the employ of daimyos.
Glass was rarely used by Japanese in Tokugawa times, but the Europeans used it in their "factories," or trading HQs.
Somebody is pursuing them--Seikei meets the boy from the theater troupe in Tokaido Inn book.

See how it goes? You don't use every idea, but you put yourself into the world, so you can write about it, and then (the last line) maybe you get a story idea.
This is just the way I'm doing it. You may find better ways for yourself.

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