Gathering Ideas

One of the best parts of being a writer is finding the stories. Personally, it's one of my favorite parts of writing. I love seeking out stories, which is part of the reason why I enjoy talking with people - everyone has a story to tell, and finding them is interesting.

Welsh Road
This past week, I went up to Niagara University to learn about the Women Weavers of Ancient Athens. Weaving was considered one of the most important things a woman could do; the other was to bear children.

Listening to the discussion about these women weavers, I found ideas for short stories, as well as new insight into a culture I really don't like. Much of the Ancient Greek culture just never interested me; besides, the older I grew, the more I realized how much the Ancient Greeks didn't like women. Respectable women didn't leave their homes, and spent their days weaving or raising children. Meanwhile, the men go to have deep intellectual conversations.

To put it mildly, I would rather visit Europe during the Black Death than visit Ancient Greece, but after learning about the world, I decided I might want to rethink my opinions. Gathering ideas often includes looking at times and locations we don't like.

For example, while I was talking with another writer, she mentioned that many romance writers set their stories in the British Isles because other countries don't have that much interest. Yet, just looking at the cultures of Europe boasts a variety of interesting story ideas: there is Duchy of Lithuania and the Baltic Crusades, the Al-Andalus history in Spain, and the Hussite Wars in Eastern Europe. If you explore outside of Europe, even more stories can be found.

As humans, we tend to look into our own cultures, and ignore other cultures. It isn't necessarily a bad thing, just a statement. Understanding the fact, however, is part of what a writer does. We need to look at various locations to both learn about other cultures as well as explore our own. While I may not enjoy learning about Ancient Greece, a patriarchal world is necessary to learn about cultures both in America and elsewhere.

You might not consider an art museum or art history lecture as a place to find story ideas, but stories come from many locations and time periods. Take the time to learn about a time period or location you don't necessarily like. You will be surprised what you find.

Side note: Azure Lights on Kindle is on sale this weekend. Today, it's on sale for $0.99 and goes up to $2.99 for the weekend.


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