January 30th, 2005, 01:10 AM
Where do you get your ideas from?
One of the most annoying questions that authors get asked is : where do you get your ideas from?
So - why does this annoy us? Well, partly because it crops up so often, but I think it is more than this. I think it illustrates a basic difference between writers of fiction (especially sff fiction which has lots of wayout ideas) and people who have no desire to make up stories. They canít imagine ever thinking such weird stuff; we think it all the time.
Most writers donít have a problem finding ideas. Our problem is finding time to use them all. And we have a hard time trying explain this to people whose minds just work a different way. Our ideas come from just about anywhere. Give me the yellow pages of a phone book, and I bet I could get an idea for a fantasy novel, and Iím not kidding.
Just to give you an example: I was talking about maps with a family member, and how inadequate they often are. And we talked of the proposal (this was some years ago) to make a kind of computer street maps for installation in cars. And that simple conversation made me think: well, the best kind of map would be one that showed you what was happening on the ground at the time. If a car computer map could show you the traffic jam aheadÖandÖwhat if a map could show the invading army crossing the borders of my fantasy land? And there it was: the idea for Havenstar. (J.K.Rowlings later used the same idea in the Harry Potter stories.)
Of course, one idea can make a short story, but it is not enough for a novel. You have to have lots of them. But I believe, nonetheless, that for most writers, the idea is the easy part. And so it is that we are somewhat perplexed when we get asked the question. We donít know how to answer. We canít see why the people asking canít see all those fabulous ideas just lying about waiting to be usedÖ
And BTW, I notice that there is a very reasonably priced copy of Havenstar up on Amazon.co.uk . Much better than some of the other way-over-the-top-in-price copies that have been on sale over the past couple of years (60 pounds for a mass market paperback??? And it sold too! Alas, no one pays me a percentage on secondhand copies...)
Last edited by glendalarke; April 27th, 2005 at 03:24 AM.