Monday, July 17, 2017

Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On

So, first off: we have a new Doctor in Doctor Who, and it's a woman.

My thoughts? Honestly, the show premise allows for it, so writer-wise, I see nothing wrong. As a viewer who is behind a season (and told that Time Lords regenerate into the other gender only after taking their own lives), I'm a little apprehensive about what I've missed. (What have you done, Doctor? I'm really scared to catch up now!)

I'm also sad because I really liked Peter Capaldi. But I am interested to see what they do with a female Doctor. Dynamics will certainly be interesting.

Anyway, on with the show! Today's blog post is brought to you by William Shakespeare (who graciously donated the title of the post) and by that question that haunts all writers:

Where do you get your ideas from?

I've heard this, you've heard this, we've all heard this. And it doesn't get any easier to answer.

So, ideas. Where do they come from? Where do any ideas come from? How do all the little thoughts and impressions in a day join together to create something worthwhile? Does anyone really know? I can track some of the development of my ideas, but something always seems to be missing.

With me, when someone asks where I got the idea for the Jeremy Wilderson books, I tell a tale about being given an assignment to create a middle grade character while reading lots of middle grade mysteries and wondering where the thief character was. But in a way, describing it like this is similar to being asked for a cake recipe and saying, "Get flour, sugar, milk, eggs, and some other things, and then you have a cake!" It ignores the process, that magic that somehow results in a finished product.

 And even that doesn't always work. Sometimes, you mix eggs, flour, sugar, oil, etcetera etcetera, and you somehow get a steak dinner with mashed potatoes. The idea looks nothing like the finished product!

I just had the opportunity to attend a day of the BYU Books for Young Readers conference (it was awesome), and one of the visiting writers commented that the initial idea for a book kicks it off, but then it gets shed like snakeskin as the story grows. I like that description.

So, where do I get my ideas? *sighs, scratches head, and fiddles around on the computer for a while*

Honestly, all over. I don't always know what's going to give me an idea, but I know the feeling when I get one. And, honestly, a lot of them are bad ideas in the long run. Stupid stories, or stories that aren't going to work. Or, not bad ideas, but things that aren't going to help me now. Things I should save.

I think writers have the habit of thinking a lot and paying attention to our random thoughts. We don't dismiss "what ifs" but like to follow them to their conclusion. Some of my ideas have come from that: what if a middle school criminal was the hero in his mind? What if in a fantasy world, humans are considered as magical as we would consider elves to be?

Some of my other ideas come from dreams. That makes sense to me; in dreams, we free associate, and some random ideas stick to other random ideas to create something fresh and interesting. I love waking up after those dreams and writing down what I remember. This happened for a fantasy I'm working on (although the inciting dream has long since been shed away), as well as my dream sci-fi and a new WIP that, frankly, is going to be a blast to write.

But some ideas I can't explain. My master's thesis came about because a wild image of a girl running into an ancient forest popped into my head when I was desperate for a story idea, and I latched onto it, wondering who she was and why the forest would be safer to her than where she was.

It wasn't this exact picture, but it was close.

Long story short, I don't really know where ideas come from, though I can usually tell the tale of the story's birth in a way that makes sense.

However, no matter where they come from, I love that electric feeling when I get a new idea and develop it into a story!

Here are this week's debuts:

Young Adult:
Jennifer Fenn - Flight (7/18)
Jennifer Honeybourn - Wesley James Ruined My Life (7/18)

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