Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Writing Warriors Wednesday ~Your Kernel Idea!

I lead a local Writing Group called the Writing Warriors. This is a wonderfully collaborative group of amazing people looking to connect with outer writers and hone their creative process.
In our first meeting, we discussed the foundation for any story, poem, a piece of art, music, blog post, new business, new invention – just about anything. The Kernel Idea!

This is the moment your creative brain latches on and the hamster wheel starts spinning. There is a rush of excitement and even giddiness at the endless possibilities. Many people take the idea and run with it rushing to find a piece of paper and start writing.

Here’s the challenge – 25,000 words later many people forget what it was that got them excited in the first place. They can no longer see the forest through the trees and the excitement fades away.  They have lost their kernel idea.
The word idea can mean lots of things to lots of people. For a writer, the idea is what the story is about. This is different than the Kernel Idea. The Kernel Idea can be anything, a quote, a smile, an interaction, a piece of dialog, a scene in a movie, the melody of a piece of music, a memory – you get the point.

When you look at your current WIP, ask yourself – What was my kernel idea? What was it that sparked my adrenaline-fueled decision that I could write 100,000 words about this?

For me, the kernel idea for my current WIP Finders came from the movie The Conjuring. Specifically, the real-life love story of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the first publicized ghost hunters. That developed into the flurry of questions and thoughts about how would two people like this meet and go on to be the first well-known paranormal experts? This is where I started developing the story, based on my kernel idea.

This is the anchor for not my story but my inspiration. My jolt of magic that made me sit up and say – oh yeah that is good!

Once you have identified your Kernel Idea the next step is to take the story and filter it down to two sentences. Your logline. These two are directly connected as they keep you focused. Every scene, theme, action, and climax should reflect your logline and your original inspiration.

I am not saying this is going to be easy because it’s not. It is a challenge for any creative person, experienced or novice) to take all that story and swill it down, but well worth it! The development of the logline is essential to keeping your creative mind focused and centered.

A great resource for examples of amazing, and sometimes, not so amazing, loglines are movies! Except in movies, they are called taglines. You usually see them on the movie poster. During our group, we played a little game where I would read the logline of a well-known movie and the group would guess the movie. It was a great laugh and a great way to demonstrate the impact two or three sentences can have when summing up your work.

As an exercise, I challenge you to identify the kernel idea for your current project or recent publication and also attempted to write out the logline. Tweet me what you come up with @AmyJRomine or post it to the #WritersCommunity hashtag on Twitter.

Here is a couple a resource to get your brain working on your logline.

Also, MUST recommend The Novel Writers Toolkit by the Astounding Bob Mayer who first introduced me to the Kernel Idea in his book 

I love to hear your feedback! Leave a comment and let me know what you think and if the post was helpful! If you want more information, or assistance shoot me an email at or ping me on Twitter @AmyJRomine.

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  1. Happy to tweet, to spread the word Amy.

  2. Fantastic post! I love this - "My jolt of magic!" Sound information :)

  3. Love this. I can't say I've ever lost sight of my kernel idea, because I tend to find a photograph that encapsulates it and put it as my desktop background so it's there every time I open my computer, but writing a log line at the start is a great idea


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