Saturday, February 19, 2011

Writing & Illustrating Prompt/Animal Math with Illustrator Will Strong

My Writing Tip by Will Strong:

When speaking with both children and adults, the question I am most often asked about writing and illustrating is, "Where do you get your ideas?"  People are sometimes shocked when I answer them.  I tell them there is nothing magical about new ideas.  Ideas don't just happen; they don't just pop into your head unbidden.  Ideas are created and cultivated.

When I talk to kids about making stories I try to focus on simple concepts.  One concept that can work for pretty much everybody is what I call "Animal Math."  You take any boring old animal and add something new to it.

Animal + Object = An Interesting Idea   

It can be that simple.

And it's not just animals.  You can take any two dissimilar things and put them together to come up with a new idea.  Take a caveman and put him in space.  Take an ordinary bath time and add an invasion of sea creatures.  Take a hippopotamus and put him on a bicycle.  

Not all of your ideas are going to be brilliant but that's okay.  I create terrible ideas all the time.  Though I know that if I keep brainstorming and tweaking things around I will eventually come up with something great.

So, that's where I get my ideas.  Once I have an idea that I'm really psyched about then it's time to get down to the tough stuff.  It's time to actually write the thing.  

So, remember to make it fun (for you and the kids.)
My name is Will Strong.  I'm a recent graduate from the BYU Illustration Program.  I'm currently illustrating my first picture book.  It's a collaboration with author Rick Walton called "I'm Not Afraid of Bunnies."  It will be released as an e-book this summer.

I also run a non-profit website for teachers (and everybody else) called  Creative Kid Central is dedicated to making creativity a part of children's lives.  My favorite part of C.K.C. is the Creative Writing Prompts section.  It's full of open-ended stories and other ideas to get kids to enjoy writing.

My motto in all the work I do is "Make It Fun."  When you are working with kids, fun is always the key element.


  1. Have just found your blog this week and have been lapping up the ideas. Thanks so much


  2. @Joanna -- so glad you found us! You are very welcome. I feel privileged to have so many wonderful and talented friends here at the Word Playground. Have fun! Lynne Marie

  3. What a great post - loved this one! There may be something here I can actually work with, and I'm complete agreement about making writing (and reading) fun for kids!

  4. I LOVED this one, too, Susanna. You know that I am going to do this kind of Math. I think I may even become good at it (I'm not so great at the 'other' math ROTFL). Enjoyed Phyllis week BTW - she did good :)

  5. Fun idea to take two unrelated things (animals, whatnot) and combine them to generate a story idea. Hmmmmm. . . Gets my mind thinking.

    Lynne, I'm looking forward to seeing your Hedgehog book when it hits the bookstores!

    Jean Reagan