Alternately titled “Where do I get all my crazy ideas?”
Being a writer is awesome, I’m not gonna lie. I’m sure everyone who has a job they love thinks the same way, but still. I mean, I literally sit at a computer and make stuff up. All day. And I get paid to do it. Well, not yet. But I will be. It’s every imaginative kid’s dream. And, yeah, there’s a lot of hard work too. And worrying and obsessing. But the base idea is awesome.
Which brings me to: where do I start on a book? Where does any writer start? You need an idea to write it, right? So, I’m assuming this goes the same for every writer out there. If I’m wrong, let me know how you do it.
I don’t know about others, but I get my inspiration from literally anywhere. The book series I’m working on now came from a combination of an online browser game and the Clockwork Century series of novels by the author Cherie Priest.
A video game and a book series. And my story isn’t even really related to either of them, because it usually ends up mutating into something unrecognizable in my brain. But all the time, I’ll be out and about, or in the shower, or almost asleep (can’t tell you how many times it’s woken me up), and I’ll just get this… vision, I guess you could call it.
Not like an actual vision, like something the psychic in the movies see. I just mean that I get the idea, ‘wouldn’t this book be even more awesome if this happened?’, or ‘hey, you can fix that plothole by putting this in!’
All the time, I run into problems that drive me crazy. ‘This doesn’t make logical sense,’ or ‘why would that character do that?’ It really does drive me crazy, like the feeling you get when all the boxes on the shelf are lined up and matching except for one, or when only one in a set is out of place. It’s like an itch at the back of my mind, and it’s really hard to ignore and move on. All I want to do is fix it, right then and there.
The problem is, I can’t. Not immediately. Sometimes it’ll take a few hours, sometimes it’ll take a few days, sometimes even longer. Up until a few weekends ago, a distinctive part of my Pandemonium series made no logical sense. At least, not to me. But I absolutely refused to take it out because it was such a cool part of the books. It wasn’t even a major thing, not like a plot or anything like that. I loved the idea, but it just bothered me. So I went to work trying to justify it, this way or that. Except, none of my ideas made sense.
Then, one weekend, I’m talking (read: ranting) to my mom about the problem over coffee, and this problem has been rattling around in my brain especially loud for the past few days, driving me crazy. Mom and I start brainstorming, and with her help, I come up with the perfect solution that lets me keep the distinctive story element, while still making it plausible (thank you, mom!).
I fixed a problem that had been bugging me for almost a year over coffee. If only every problem were solved that easily, huh?
Or like how I got the idea for my very, very first completed story from a video game I used to play when I was a kid. An alien girl hanging out with her alien father and human stepmother and their two kids. That’s it. Nothing else. Then I thought, “well, if the girl and her father are aliens, where’s the girl’s mother? No way she’s the human’s daughter.”
And thus, the premise for Homeworld was born. Homeworld isn’t published yet, but it may be someday. And it came from a video game.
And I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that the basic idea behind one of my future standalone stories was based on a piece of parody fan-fiction I stumbled across. The two aren’t even related, but the sheer goofiness and casual hilarity caught me, and I want to try writing like that. I’m not sure how funny I am, but that’s what writing is; you try it, and if it absolutely refuses to work, you try something else.
Sometimes, I can’t even understand my own brain. And sometimes my writing hurts. It hurts a lot, like a shard of glass stuck in your foot just where you can’t reach it. And it can be annoying, and stubborn, and absolutely doesn’t want to work. But I’ll keep going, because I’ve been doing this just long enough now that I know it does work out, eventually.