Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Idea of Ideas

Today was pleasantly pleasant.  Harley let Jak know the rules and let him know who she would choose if a choice had to be made.  It's about time for them to meet a one-eyed Jack and go for a swim.  

Every time I talk to someone and I start talking about this thing I'm working on or that thing I'm doodling over, I always hear the same thing:  Where does this stuff come from?  So of course I've been thinking about ideas.  Truth be told, I have a computer full and box full of half-developed ideas that are in various stages.  Some are ideas I'm not good enough yet to write, some are ideas that just aren't ready for me to write them (they're a bit shy) and some are ideas that I've rejected or have been pushed aside for something more interesting.  But the point is that should I ever really run dry I can tell people that I get them from a box I keep under my bed.

But where do the REAL ideas come from?  The ones I actually work on?  For me they usually start with a character.  I love looking at names.  I was researching names for something or another and I found a fantastic site of the strangest names.  One on the list was Feeblebunny.  The name made me laugh.  But I was caught and suddenly the story of how Gaston J. Feeblebunny became captain of the Aether Daemon sprang to life on the page.  

Sometimes the ideas come from research.  I was researching monsters for an alphabet book for my nephew when I read about Crimbils that are switched for human children by the Bendith Y Mamau and the story of Minuet was born.  

The Last Guardian came directly from a dream.  Of course the dream was NOTHING like the actual book, but the main character was always Duncan Doogle and there was always a small town in the dust bowl.

There are news stories I've been fascinated by and have cut and filed away believing I could turn them into stories.  For instance there was in the news years ago a German man who placed an ad for someone he could cannibalize.  Surprisingly someone answered the ad and they tried to both eat him.  Anyway, I was fascinated by this story, but I always envisioned the cannibal as a very proper, middle-aged British Gentleman who serves tea in porcelain tea cups with tiny flowers on them, and has everything arranged just so.

I'm also fascinated with the unfortunate story of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake, who both committed suicide.  I would never plunder actual details, especially not of something so tragic, but the idea of the Folie a deux is intriguing.  

Finally, when all else fails, fall back on the old stuff.  There's a wonderful movie called Freeway with Reese Witherspoon and Keifer Sutherland that's a really F-ed up take on Little Red Ridinghood.  My current tale is a take on Jack and the Beanstalk (except the beans aren't beans and the giants aren't out to eat him...well not all of them anyway).

The awful truth is that ANYTHING can be an idea, which means that if you write, your brain will constantly be bombarded with thoughts like, "How can I make THAT into a story?"  Sometimes even at the most inappropriate moments.  But that's all part of the curse.  The Writer's Curse.  If I never publish a book I'll still be worrying over ideas and writing them down thirty years from now.  I must have killed a writer in my previous life.

One last thing:  I used to be told all the time to write what I know.  F that.  Seriously.  If I only ever wrote what I knew I'd never write anything.  However, mining your own history and the history of your family members is fantastic.  For instance, my favorite story from my family involves a judge and a chair called the Suicide Chair.

Of course if all else fails, I have the box under my bed.

Word of the Day:  Folie a Deux

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