I was recently posting a message to a friend’s Facebook site, and read a response she had sent over the summer. One of the questions in that missive was, where do you get these ideas? Good question. And really I have no idea where some of these ideas come from. Many of them seem to spring from my mind like Athena from the head of Zeus. As if there really is a living Muse whispering into my psychic ear. After the initial idea there is quite a bit of work involved in development. Days of research, pages of drawing, then maybe short outlines. One thing that helps me is reading a variety of fiction and non-fiction, watching TV and movies, watching people as I go about my day to day business. A word of warning to the uninitiated. If you are around a former mental health specialist or Psychologist, you are being watched, your behavior cataloged. We just can’t help it, and it’s nothing personal. Anyway, having tons of stuff running through your head is a good way to generate ideas. Sometimes the ideas come out in dreams. Many are the times when I have awoken in the morning with a dream running through my head. A bizarre dream, a disturbing dream, or maybe just a fun dream. The dream starts a train of thought. The train of thought sparks an idea for a story. And voila, there is a ready to write story flowing through my strange mind.
Many of the writers I follow offer advice freely to their readers who aspire to write. One common piece of advice is to read what is out there. It is necessary to gain an appreciation for the genres in which one writes. If you are a visual person like myself it also helps to watch movies and TV shows. The imagery will get the creative juices flowing. Does that mean only read and watch the best of the genre. Not at all. I get some of my best ideas reading something of less than stellar value. And believe you me, their are lots of examples to draw on, some from best sellers. I come away with a righteous rage toward the author, a feeling that I could have done much better. Sometimes with the feeling that a trained Chimp could do much better. So I come up with an idea that uses some of their background, but with what I hope is a more intelligent twist. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But it does keep the ideas flowing.
About half of the main characters I create are female. Strong characters who take no crap, and kick ass when crap is offered. I have a rage come over me when I see women characters in film and literature mistreated. And don’t even get me started when it comes to real life. So I see a woman being mistreated, raped, beaten, even killed. And my line of thought goes something like this: What if she was a vampire, or a mage, or a cyborg warrior. Wouldn’t the assassin be surprised if after pumping three rounds into her stomach with the silenced pistol she slumped to the floor. Then looks up at him with a smile on her face, bares her fangs, and laughs.
I read a book recently by a guy named Rory Miller called Violence, A Writer’s Guide, which I highly recommend for anyone trying to gain incite on the mental status of violent people. I write violence. I don’t usually commit it. I think my last fight outside of sparing was in Elementary School. In the book Mr. Miller stated that he is a Violence Geek. He means that he knows what real violence is like, and finds fault in the writings of those who know nothing about it. He also states that there are Geeks in every field. I consider myself a multiple geek. Weapons, military history, ancient civilizations, basic physics. I look at everything in the world of fiction with a jaundiced eye. And when I find a mistake it is just grist for my creative mill. I have found errors in the works of award winning multiple best sellers. I try to be careful in my own work not to commit the same mistakes. Meaning I probably commit new mistakes. Which someone else will find and comment on.