Thursday, June 28, 2012

How Do You Get Your Ideas?

I know it's not Tell The Truth Tuesday or anything, but I am going to make a small confession here: I like SOME chick flicks. Usually, the phrase "romantic comedy" can get me to watch something. There are plenty that I don't like, but there are some that I do.

One of my favorite chick flicks is actually not a romantic comedy. It is Legally Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon. (Come on, it's Reese Witherspoon, how can you not like it?--Let's ignore that mess known as Legally Blonde 2.)

There are a few good lines in that movie. One of the most well known is when Victor Garber's character says to Luke Wilson's character "Do you think she just woke up one day and said, 'I think I'll go to law school?'" Now, the audience knows this isn't true with Reese's character Elle Woods. But that concept of waking up one day and saying "I think I'll ____" toward something unmerited and unwarranted is something plenty of us do.

One question that I hear (almost ad nauseum) at writers conferences is "How do you get your ideas?" Honestly, I wanna reply by saying, "You do realize that not everyone is going to get ideas the same way, right?" What's worked for Brandon Sanderson may not work for Dan Brown. What obviously worked for Stephenie Meyere is probably not going to work for Stephen King. (Let's be honest, if Stephen King wrote Twilight, Bella would've died in chapter 3 and Edward would have a different war with Jacob.)

I'm going to answer how I get my ideas. More than likely if you were to ask me "Do you get your ideas by (some method that makes sense)?" I would have to say "yes" in reply. Let's look at how I've gotten 7 of my many ideas.

1) When I was fourteen, I was one day thumbing through my dad's Bible (I have no idea why) and I looked at the name Malachi. I thought to myself, what if it was Malashi. And that was the name of a place. And in that place was a group of Power Ranger wannabes in a Star Wars world. (I was fourteen, I stole ideas instead of fabricating them.)

2) Tomorrow Never Dies was about to premier (that's a James Bond film for those uncultured people). I was with my dad and brother and the newscaster talking about the movie said the word "Agent". I created A.G.E.N.T.S. about a group of people (again sci-fi/fantasy) who were trying to protect the planet from some evil people. (Again, there was somehow a Power Ranger theme to this. What can I say, I was into random pseudo-ninja fighting.)

3) One of the first true fantasy novels I ever read was Magic Kingdom For Sale-Sold. In it, Ben Holliday purchases the Kingdom of Landover. Landover is supposed to be a portal kingdom connected worlds together. This idea led me to write what has become "Eli's Journey". The thought of the connected kingdoms was since been removed.

4) I was tired of writing about Eli so while my daughter slept next to me when she had a cold and USC was trying to get into the Elite Eight, I just started writing and came up with an interested fantasy novel I hope to look at again and improve.

5) I was sitting behind this girl in my intermediate accounting class. Her first name was the same as my daughter's. Her last name was the same as my daughter's heart doctor. So I thought: what if this is my daughter come back from the future to help me somehow. Obviously that would've been much cooler than another classmate I barely knew/know. But I got a story out of it, that has been tweaked many times. But the concept of a child going back in time to save a parent has never changed.

6) Looking through my Grimm's Fairy Tales, I found one I thought would make an awesome retelling/fractured fairy tale base.

7) I started driving to work one day and got this image of a teenage boy thinking he'd just killed someone and created a brand new idea.

Let me recap here. Reading a word. Hearing a word. Reading a concept. Just going for it (Elana Johnson calls this pantsing). Connecting imaginary and figurative dots. Taking an already told story and hoping to make it interesting. Just randomly seeing an image in my mind.

What have you done? Or rather...what random moment has inspiration struck you?

1 comment:

Weaver said...

Dreams have been a great resource for me, but just letting your mind kind of wander while you're asking "what if" questions can really get me going.