It’s the age old question anyone creative gets asks, where do you get your ideas from?
Stephen King is famous for saying that ideas don’t pop into his head late at night while drinking blood and sitting at a cobwebbed typewriter. Most often, a concept will spring, sometimes fully formed, into his subconscious either driving down a sunny highway or mid conversation at a dinner party.
I’m not so intuitive. My ideas always have a very basic birth; I know what I DON’T want.
When embarking upon a new writing venture, I tend to think ‘Where haven’t I been? What’s interesting to me? What will shock, titillate, amuse?’ Ultimately, it’s material gone before that I find either despising or believing an award winning concept has not been fully realised that prompts me to begin work.
A case of ‘Bah, I can do better than that?’ Perhaps...
As mentioned previously, countless times (maybe I should have it tattooed onto my forehead), ‘Swan Song’ was designed as the ‘antidote’ to ‘Twilight.’ So for me, it’s most definitely a case of knowing what pitfalls to avoid that helps me structure and create something new and, hopefully, unique (I guess looking at it's success, you could hardly call 'Twilight' a pitfall. It certainly was for self respecting vampires!)
The first thing Frances Ford Coppola did before making ‘The Godfather’ (after breaking the novel down scene by scene) was write down the pitfalls, the places where he could screw up. Francis’ father had a good slogan, steal from the best, and what’s good for Coppola’s good enough for me! I have followed the adage of knowing what not to do beforehand as a good mantra for creation since the very beginning.
If I see a film that promises (or should that be threatens? Depends on your taste I guess) violence but doesn’t deliver, I know my next work won’t tease without following through. If I read a book that has all the potential to re-design the wheel but falls somewhat short, I’ll attempt to be far more courageous than I have been previously. If I hear of ONE MORE BLOODY HOLLYWOOD REMAKE....
Ahem, I’ll stop there I think on that one.
I talk to people, find out likes and dislikes, what they want and what they are sick of. It all helps to coming up with something that will hopefully allow people to ‘get their groove on.’
Most importantly, and here I defer to the great Clive Barker, write for yourself first and foremost. If I’m not into what I’m creating, how can I expect anyone else to be? Readers are VERY smart and can spot a fake miles away.
So turn yourself on first...
...just make sure you get some writing done afterwards!