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Thursday, January 1, 2015

January 2015 Update

One of the most common questions asked of writers is:
Where do you come up with your ideas?

I'd love to be able to answer that question, but unfortunately, I have no idea! I use writing prompts quite a bit, especially when I'm suffering from writer's block (as I have lately), but most of my best ideas just seem to fall out of the sky!

Okay, maybe they don't really fall out of the sky. It's more like my mind goes on some kind weird, random-association train ride. Did you ever see the episode of Big Bang Theory where Sheldon tells everyone “what’s on his mind”?

"I've been thinking about Dr.Green's efforts to make science palatable for the masses...Now I'm thinking about fractal equations. Now I'm thinking about the origin of the phrase 'train of thought.' Now I'm thinking about trains."

That's usually how I come up with my ideas!

I see something, hear something, or think about something, and then some other input happens to cross-pollinate with whatever I'm thinking/hearing/seeing, and a story is born!
For example, I happened to be flicking through the channels and saw a report on the “running of the brides.” One of the brides they were interviewing had thick bushy eyebrows and a large, squashed nose, and she spoke into the microphone through a snaggletooth smile. Not to be mean, but she kind of looked the troll from under the bridge in the illustrated fairy tales I read to my kids. That got me to thinking, “Wouldn’t it be funny if she really WAS a troll, and she was getting married and needed a wedding gown, so she shaved and tried to disguise herself as human so she could get a bargain gown, too. Moments later, the report flicked to a shot of brides fighting over a gown, and I thought, “Whew. I feel sorry for any gal who decided to get into a fight with troll-bride.” And "Monique's Bridal Boo-tique" was born (though in the final version, the brides are a werewolf and a vampire).

Or, A few days after waxing nostalgic with someone about the ads that used to be at the back of comic books (trick cigarettes, finger trap gum, fake dog poo, and Amazing Sea Monkeys), I saw a picture on the Internet of a nasty little sea creature that hitched a ride on a submersible brought to the surface.  The image of that ugly little sea critter clicked with a visual in my mind of the text “Amazing Sea Monkeys” and "Incredible Sea Mongrels" was born.

After working a Black Friday at a major retailer, I had a desire to write something about the complete chaos of the experience, but I didn’t know what angle to take on it: nonfiction or fiction, comedy or horror, etc. While I was letting the idea percolate, a customer happened to say to me one evening, “The night shift must be rough. You guys all look like a bunch of zombies.” And bam! “Inhuman Resources” was born.

“Revelations” came from a religious flyer. For whatever reason, the words struck me as more ominous than inspirational: “He came the first time to die. He is coming again to raise the dead.” Imagine that text with a Damien/The Omen-style soundtrack in a movie trailer!

"Lard-Ass Larson" came from a CNN report about the obesity epidemic in America and a rerun of a South Park episode where Cartman had a V-chip embedded (he received a dog collar-like shock every time he swore).

“The Piper” came (sort of) from a family game we used to play on trips. In the game, we replace titles of songs, movies, books, etc. with the word “Yam” in them somewhere (The Yams of Wrath, Yam Wars, Gone With the Yam). Sometimes I just like to stick zombies into everything. And obviously, this is a very popular idea, what with Pride & Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, etc.

While the reality is that we really don't know where the ideas come from, the thing you should take-away from this is: stories are everywhere, all around you…

or…

writers have really warped, twisted minds.
Take your pick.




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