Wednesday, March 23, 2016

What's next? by Jason Kirschner

“What's your next book going to be about? Where do you come up with the ideas?” Someone asked me this recently. I’m sure each of you has been asked some version of this at one time or another.  I’m snarky so I usually just make up some answer about my cats writing most of my stuff and move on.  But my first book launches really soon,  (May 10th --7 weeks and counting people.) and I’ve been in the planning stages of my next project(s). I find myself asking “What’s my next idea? What do I want to work on?” 

This is the book people. Took me 2 1/2 years.
I'm still sweating.  
One of my biggest takeaways from the whole experience with Mr. Particular: The World’s Choosiest Champion is that writing and drawing a book takes a LONG time.  I can say I’ve truly loved just about every second of it but…it’s a tremendous amount time, 2-3 years or longer from inspiration to publication.  I’ve drawn Mr. Particular about 40,000 times this year.  But –I still love him. In my mind, the only way to make it through this process is to LOVE LOVE LOVE what you’re working on. You should know and love your characters because of or despite their little quirks.  

I think 40,000 times might be underestimating.
So – where do I get ideas I love so much that I won’t lose interest?  How do I decide what I want on my drawing table for next for the next 2-3 years?  I start with a few things.  

I tend to think about my kids a lot. They are a breeding ground for good ideas. If you don’t have kids, consider renting.  I try to look for bigger concept rather than specific incidents. Specific happenings tend to weigh me down and make me inflexible about changing details for the good of the story.  Mr. Particular is based on the choosiness of my kids but not really any one occasion.  I’m now in the middle of a manuscript about my daughter’s tendency to throw tantrums, but not on any one specific tantrum.

Here's two elements right here - kids + sci-fi.
 Hmmm.  I just got an idea for another book. 
A good title is also a great starting point for me.  I like puns a lot. Too much, probably. I recently heard a story on NPR about Witzelsucht (a mental condition marked by the making of puns and poor jokes and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that they were talking about me.  But, I digress.  I try to think of playful jokey titles that will set me on a path towards a good story.  I know a funny title will always make me pick up a book to investigate and I hope others will do the same with my books.

I’ve previously mentioned my membership in Nerds of America, so I feel no shame in saying that there are certain genres I love. I love outer-space adventures, superheroes, time-travel stories, and monster movies.  Elements from these types of stories float through my head at all time.  They take up a LOT of room.  Its why I forgot your last birthday, I assure you. When I can, I like to tailor my stories to include fantastical things because I tend not to lose interest in these things. 
Seriously- these are my doodles. Space girls, space dogs and,
apparently, guns that shoot bubbles.  Very effective 
I also keep a file on my phone’s notebook app so I can write down any of the gems that occur to me so I don’t forget them.  My memory is awful.  I have forgotten the topic of this blog at least twice since I started typing.  The odds that I’ll remember today’s brilliant idea tomorrow are slim to none.  Write them all down.  That way when you are considering your next project you can refer to an amazing list of ideas that you can’t for the life of you remember having.  Its like magic.

So in short, I try to find something about my kids (who I love) that I want to write about.  I mix in some nerdy sci-fi elements (that I love) and find a funny title (that I also love) to wrap it all up. It will keep you interested and invested for the long haul. And if you’re blocked, refer to a list of all the ideas that you loved when you wrote them down, but just can’t remember.  As always, I hope you find something useful here and anything you hated was written by my cats.

(Mr. Particular: The World's Choosiest Champion is available for pre-order at, B& or grab it at your favorite bookstore on May 10th.)

Evil little buggers aren't they?

Facebook:  Jason Kirschner
Twitter: @jason_kirschner
Instagram: @jkirsch118


  1. Thanks for sharing your ideas of where to get inspiration, Jason and you did great on the post too!!

  2. I wonder if an obsessive mind is a common trait in children's books author/illustrators. I suppose it has to be to an extent to work on our books for years prior to being published. I'm not a SCI-FI junkie, but can talk children's books until my family is blue in the face : ) Thank you for sharing what inspires you!

  3. Tell me more . . . tell me moaa . . .!

    1. I was going to tell you the rest of the secrets in June-- but now you won't be there...

  4. Great tips on turning the inspiration into an appealing story. And also how to not loose that great idea in the 1st place.