by Susan Taylor Brown

I’m a collector. I can’t go on a walk without finding something I have to pick up and take home with me for my idea box. A stick. A rock. A broken toy. I also have a hard time throwing things away so an item headed for Goodwill might find its way into my idea box. It’s a great way to jumpstart my tired brain. Whenever I find something new or old or interesting, I toss it in the box.


Does something in my idea box jump out at you?

What kind of creature has a purple feather? What would a little kid be carrying around in that black jewelry box? Does that green silk scarf belong to a magician? What would those sunglasses be if they weren’t normal sunglasses? Who lost their yo-yo?

By asking myself questions about things in my prop box I can get my writing motor revved up again.

Whose black gloves are these?


What kid is trying to solve the case of his grandmother’s missing brooch?


I know this is all about PiBoIdMo 2009 and I know you haven’t had a chance to build an idea box of your own yet. But wait. You probably already DO have one. Or even two. If you have a junk drawer where you toss items that don’t have a home, you have a good start on an idea box. Here’s my junk drawer.


Your turn. Go open any drawer in your house right now, junk or otherwise, grab something out of it and then write about it as though it were something entirely different.

What if the box of matches was really a bed for teeny tiny fairies?

What if the string was a rope to help a princess escape from the castle.

What if the ribbon was a rare snake that had been stolen from the zoo?

That’s all it takes. An ordinary object and a question, “What if?”

You get the idea.

Susan Taylor Brown is the author of all sorts of things including:
Hugging the Rock, Verse Novel (Tricycle, 2006)
Oliver’s Must-do List, Picture Book (Boyds Mills Press, 2005)
Robert Smalls Sails to Freedom, Easy Reader (Millbrook, 2006)
Can I Pray With My Eyes Open? Picture Book (Hyperion, 1999)
Enrique Esparza, Boy at the Alamo, Picture Book (Millbrook, forthcoming)