Sparks--by Kimberly Sabatini

For me, the right ideas are like sparks.


Occasionally, a new idea arrives like an explosion, blasting into my mind almost fully formed, confident in what it's supposed to be.

More often than not, the sparks that fuel my writing ideas and my general creativity are not that obvious. Instead, they are more like tiny, erratic fireflies, unnoticeable unless I pay attention. But after having a few of these fireflies take me on interesting and amazing journeys, I've trained myself to be better at examining what crosses my path--especially if it shows up more than once.

Recently I've had the most amazing spark experience. I'm going to try to explain it without giving away too much information about my current WIP. 

One day I was talking with a friend who mentioned a scientist with some interesting research on water. The topic immediately sparked a response from me and I thought, "I could totally write about that in the future--there's something there."

I then proceeded to get two of his books and two other books about water that spoke to me. 
I read one of the books and took some notes for a future story idea.

Meanwhile, about half a year has sped by as I was crafting my YA work in progress--SLICE. This story has been a Gordian knot to untangle, but it has kept me fascinated as I work to uncover the story I know I'm supposed to be telling.

SLICE partially takes places in a fictional space I've dubbed The Other Zone or The O.Z.  
And sometimes when I get stuck in my writing I need to go away from the page and remember what questions I'm trying to answer in my own life. What is driving me to write this story? I've learned that one way to reconnect with my purpose is to read things, watch things and experience things--to see what creates new sparks.

I felt like I didn't have enough information to make the choices I needed to make for my main character, so it was time to look outside my laptop. And I really felt the urge to read one of those remaining books on water that I had ordered over the summer--even though it was supposed to be for a future idea.

But I didn't argue with the urge, I've learned to trust the pull of the spark. I pulled out the book and began reading.

My pulse raced and my eyes almost bugged out of my head. Not too far into the book, I found this...

The whole thing gave me chills. It's called the Exclusion Zone, or the E.Z. And it has some disturbingly similar properties to my fictional O.Z. As I continued to read, I found a swath of sparks that sent me back to my manuscript with a clearer path of where I might go with my story.

And now that I'm done writing this post, I can head back to that manuscript and continue to harness those sparks.

How do your sparks of illumination find you?


  1. When I was the local librarian, patrons would share the most interesting ideas with me. Some ended up in short stories, others became human interest pieces for a newspaper or literary magazine. I was getting ready for my early morning senior aquatic exercise group yesterday morning and the meat for a 500 word flash fiction entry hit me right beteewn the eyes. If you look, the inspirations, like miracles are out there.

  2. You amaze me. This is such wonderful-ness :)

  3. They are out there, indeed...and I love how those little sparks keep showing up for you...for ALL of us! xoxo


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