Words from the Words of Others

Words from the Words of Others

A Lesson by Imelda Blackheart

I honestly don't feel like writing a description right now, so you can just read the actual lesson yourself.


I may have briefly gone over quotes in a previous lesson, but lately they've become so important to me that I need to bring the topic back up again (sorry). I will be adding a lot more detail for this, though, so hopefully you won’t be too bored. 

Recently I got stuck in a writing rut and I found that I wasn’t really in the mood to go out people watching (maybe because I got a stern warning from a mother to stop staring at her child) or doing any of the many other methods that I’ve brought up to get rid of writer’s block. I then thought to myself, “Well, what if other people are just like me; too lazy to do any of the things I’ve suggested? What can I do for my kind of people that just want to sit at the computer all day and watch nyan cat for a hour and a half (I’ve never really done that, honest.)?” 

The solution hit me immediately (if only novel ideas worked that way). Why shouldn't authors be able to use the words of others to spur their own words? I’m not talking about copying down the Harry Potter series onto your computer and attempting to go back in time to get rid of J.K. Rowling and take over her series (and who’s to say that she didn’t do that too someone else…) or just stealing another author’s work from public places like this site. I’m talking about quotes.

Wait! Don’t click out of this page yet! I’m not finished. Let me just… whip up an example off the top of my head to show you what I mean, alright?

“The man who rolls up his sleeves seldom loses his shirt.” – Thomas Cowan 

Okay. First things first; remember that with any quote, it can be taken a number of different ways. Actually, that applies to most things. Jokes, bible verses, instruction manuals, etc. I’ve decided that I’m going to take this quote literally and start off by making my main character lose his shirt because he wimped out on something. Because I’m not too cruel of a person, I’m also going to make my character male. 

Now we know that the character is male and is a bit of a coward. But what exactly did he back down from that cost him his shirt? How are the other characters in the story going to react? Will they accept him? Will they laugh at him? Will they be embarrassed for him? The possibilities are limitless!

Let’s just try another one, but we’ll make this one a little bit different. 

“The greatest power that a person possesses is the power to choose.” – J. Martin Kohe

Like I mentioned before, this can be a taken a number of ways. Some people might look at this quote and see no story in it while others may see an entire novel. You just have to keep looking until you find something that you can make a story out of (and let me warn you in advance that you’ll have to go through a lot of crap to get to some of the good stuff, kind of like a thrift store). 

But let’s get going. 

The power to choose, huh? It’s up to you how you want to do this, but I’m going to give you three different examples just to show you what kind of variety you will be able to come up with if you just look at the quote a little more closely than the average human being.

1. The greatest power is the power to choose, huh? Well, what if someone in your story was able to take that power away from others for themselves? What caused them to be able to do this? Do they even want to do it? Can they control their own power? 

2.  Another quote says that only those who have been on the other side of power can truly appreciate it when it’s in their hands. So, you tell me what happens when some who had no power in the past suddenly has more of it than most people could ever dream of. How did they obtain this power? Who were they before; what is their history? How are they going to use their power? Is there someone that they want to specifically hurt/help with their new power?

3. Okay, maybe this isn’t mind control, but think of a situation where someone was being controlled by a puppet. Maybe it’s a kid whose parents control every aspect of their life and treat them like they are just another possession that they own. Maybe it’s someone at work whose boss and coworkers take advantage of whenever they need it and they are helpless to stop it. What are their feelings? Do they even realize what’s happening to them? Are they planning to get out of it all somehow?

I know, I know; those weren't the best book ideas ever, but you do have to remember that this is all just off the top of my head. If you wanted to, I’m sure that you could come up with a  lot more stories on not just these quotes but on any quote you choose (and they’d probably be a lot better). 

Of course, you don’t have to use a quote to generate a story idea. You can have a quote that represents your characters emotions, and through that you could figure out what circumstances made your character feel those emotions. I’ll just give you a brief example before we move on. 

“Knowledge is power if you know it about the right person.” – Ethel Mumford

Well isn’t this a cheery quote! I’ll try to be brief with this one. Maybe the protagonist of this story just found out some nasty piece of gossip about someone who has always been mean to her. Never before has she tried to fight them back, but now she has the means to do it. So what happens to her whenever she spills this piece of information to the public? Was the piece of gossip even true to begin with? What happens to the main character’s enemy, and does the main character do anything more to it?

That’s enough of that,  though. I’ve been pulling most of these quotes of a site…


I will warn you, though; you won’t get to the quotes immediately. If you go on the site, look on the left hand side of the screen and find the link that says “Random Quotes.” Once at the random quotes you can adjust where you want to draw your quotes from and you’ll occasionally be offered the option to look at quotes from a specific topic. If you already have a topic in mind, though, I would suggest just goggling something like “Quotes about …..” blank. 

If you have any questions just shoot me a message, though I can’t promise I’ll respond as quickly as you might like (I have a life too, you know)! I’ll just end this lesson with a few more quotes that kind of caught my eye, though you might not think anything about them. Happy Memorial Day!


“A good man would prefer to be defeated than to defeat injustice by evil means.” – Sallust

“To die for an idea; it is unquestionably noble. But how much nobler it would be if men died for ideas that were true!” – H. L. Mencken

“Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” – Jules Renard

“Life is like getting dropped off in the middle of the woods and then, year by year, gradually walking home.” – April Foiles

“A diamond with a flaw is worth more than a pebble without imperfections.” – Chinese Proverb

“It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.” – Alec Bourne

“I was going to have cosmetic surgery until I noticed that the doctor’s office was full of portraits by Picasso.” – Rita 


“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” – H.L. Mencken

“After twelve years of therapy my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, “No hablo ingles.” – Ronnie Shakes

“Make yourself necessary to somebody. Do not make life hard to any.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“A lot of people mistake a short memory for a  clear conscience.” –Doug Larson

“Old age is not so bad when you consider the alternatives.” - Maurice Chevalier

“People are, if anything, more touchy about being thought silly than they are about being thought unjust.” – E. B. White

“He who wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.” – Edmund Burke

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Added on May 28, 2013
Last Updated on May 28, 2013

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Imelda Blackheart
Imelda Blackheart

Beyond enjoying writing like everyone else on this site, I really don't know what else to tell you. :D