Posts Tagged ‘ideas’

Hello to week four!

How are you guys finding things so far? Remember in Part 3 I referred to the preparation of writing a book like building a house? Well, by now you should all have your Facebook and Twitter accounts up and running, regularly posting, and making a ton of new friends. That means you’ve sought out some building contractors and received a pile of estimates.

Part Four is all about drawing up the plans, ready for the architect.

Okay, let’s get down to down to business. The whole point of doing all this is because you have a bunch of ideas you’re dying to turn into a novel, right?

Firstly, lets just run over the basics.

Where do ideas come from?

This is like asking how long is a piece of string. Ideas are everywhere: magazines, newspapers, lines in a song, a word in a dictionary. It’s what our imagination does with them that matters.

Take this photograph for example:

We all know and love TV sitcom, ‘Friends’. When we look at this picture we automatically think of the perfect life we’d all like to live, with funny, humorous, neighbours who all have a great life. That’s because one, it’s make-believe, and two, it’s written as a comedy. Now, let’s say you sway towards the genre of romance. Look at the picture again. What do you see? Probably, pretty much how the show was towards the end of its run; relationship ups and downs, heartache, weddings….

Now, if you are like me – or maybe you’re just twisted and demented – you may sway towards the thriller genre. You may see Phoebe as a sociopath. Chandler as a womanizer. Monica as a spoilt brat who would kill to get what she wants. Or, maybe you see six friends just days before one of them accidently dies. The other five decide to cover it up until years later they start to die, one by one.

See how one photograph can set the idea’s train in motion?

But, one snippet of an idea doesn’t necessary give you enough material to write a novel.

Same but different rule

Actually, I think this is a good time to tell you about the ‘same but different’ rule.

Every idea has been done before. I’m sorry but that’s the cold, hard, truth of it. If you are discarding ideas because they have been used before then you will never write a book and should give up now.

The ‘same but different’ rule applies to every single film or book you have ever seen or read. The reason you may not have noticed it is because of this rule. I can see I’m loosing you. Bear with me. Let’s take a film we have all seen. Halloween.

Here’s the basic idea. A psychopath runs around and kills sex hungry teenagers.

Sound familiar?

Maybe you’re also thinking about ‘Scream’. You know, where the killer runs around and kills a load of teenagers?

Or, what about Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street? Doesn’t a killer run around and kill a group of teenagers in them too?

Of course he does. So why are all these films (along with a boat-load of others), so different?

Because the writers used the same but different rule.

In Halloween, the killer is an escaped mental patient out to kill his sister. In Friday the 13th, the killer is a man repeatedly acting out revenge for his mother’s death. In A Nightmare on Elm Street, the killer is a dead murderer who uses dreams as a way to get his victims.

Scream was very clever and took the ‘same but different’ rule a step further by surprising audiences with not one killer – but two. (And, I’m ashamed to admit, one I did not see coming).

So, although all these ideas are the same, they are different.

Building on your idea

Having the kernel of an idea is only the start for a book. But it isn’t enough. Here’s why.

I have an idea. It goes something like this. I have a girl who has lost her memory and has to find out who she is. It’s simple and it’s been done a thousand times before…. and I’m comfortable with that. I like simple. Simple is good.

But how the hell am I to get between 80-100 thousand words from that idea? Even my imagination couldn’t go with the flow on that one. Well maybe it could, but I’m a freak of nature.

No. This is where much thinking and plotting comes into it. Now, plotting we will talk about in week or so. But for now, we need to work on further thinking our idea.

I know I am writing a thriller. I also know I want both a female and male protagonist. Plus, there has to be one antagonist, too. Now I have an idea I need to fit a minimum of three characters into. But how should I tackle this amnesia? How does she get amnesia in the first instance? I know. I’ll have her thrown of a bridge. Cool. But why? Has she witnessed something? Is she in witness protection? Is she on the run and in hiding? Maybe. And this is where the hero cop comes into it, with all his luggage and the cat and mouse game begins.

Okay. I have a rough idea of why and where my story will go. Now I have something I can develop further with plotting. But, before I begin plotting, I need to work on my characters. This is something we’ll look at next week in Part Five.

So, this weeks task is to go find an idea. I don’t care where it comes from. Maybe you overhear some people talking. Maybe you pass a road side advertisement. I want to know where you found your idea and what it consisted of. For example, if a picture, what kind of picture. If it was in a song, tell me the song and the line/word/verse that caught your attention. And, as I love to know how good your imaginations are, I want your to put your brave head on and also tell me what your idea is.

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I’ve just been for a bike ride. Wow, you’re so jealous, aren’t you? Go on admit it. I really know how to live, don’t I?

But, what’s so exciting about this particular ride that I had to grab my laptop and blog as soon as I ran through the front door?

Well, I have a numb bum for a start. And believe me when I tell you I could write a thousand words minimum on that, and the need for a more spongy saddle alone. Don’t worry, though. I’ll spare you the image (if it’s not too late). It’s not my bum I’m writing about today.

So, what could I have possibly seen which would prompt me to write this post?

As writers, we know ideas can pop up from anywhere. We look for them in newspaper headlines, photographs, idle chatter listened in on while standing in the cinema queue. Ideas are everywhere. We just need to keep an eye (or ear) out for them.

And I found a massive one right on my own doorstep? I’m not talking about autobiographies either. I’m talking about good old fashioned fiction, with good old fashioned settings.

I live in a little village. It’s a good village, if you’re into weird crap or, er, happen to be a writer. The village is situated on the historically creepy lay-lines, has ghost sightings in nearly every house, has a disused Abbey where the last burning of a witch was supposed to have taken place, and my son was christened in a gatehouse turned cattle shed turned chapel which was once owned by Henry VIII. I mean, I have my fare share of history and story ideas.

Rivenhall Airfield

Today, though, I stumbled upon a World War Two airfield not a mile from my house.

How the hell could I have missed that! I mean, I’ve lived here for over eight years and an airfield, complete with runway, control tower and satellite dish isn’t exactly small and camouflaged with overgrown grass. And even if the grass could grow fifty feet tall, nothing could disguise hanger No.6 from view. It’s gigantic. My son shouted ‘hello’ inside, and it’ll probably still be echoing the vibrations until midnight tonight.

Hanger No.6

Needless to say, my mind went into overdrive. Little out houses buried in among overgrown trees and bushes looked like somewhere Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th would hide out. I was in imagination heaven.
If I’d were still a kid, I would have spent every hour there with my friends, building camps and living in a world where the Bogeyman and his friends were hunting us down and we had to fight for survival. Now, as an adult, I can just sit back and write about it. 🙂

So, where do you live? What’s on your doorstep? Have you discovered something you never knew was there? Is your home town steeped in history?

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