Thursday, May 6, 2010

About becoming an idea hording concept grabbing word pimp

Ahhh- trying saying THAT five times fast! Too easy? Put five marshmallows in your mouth and try again...difficult wasn't it? (Don't ask how I know.)

Today's blog is about the magic of stealing from the world around us- and the best source around- ourselves.

Writers steal.

It's what we do. And any writer who says they have never stolen, borrowed, liberated, absconded with, or snurched an idea, concept, name-- is lying. Or has been living in a cave raised by wolves. Of course then they'd probably start writing about wolves in caves- bada boom they're stealing from the wolf that raised them. And lying since they already made the claim they don't steal.

Thing is we are making up worlds. We're making up people, places, galaxies, etc (ok mainstream fiction writers make up a lot less than us fantasy/SF folks- but still...)
Those worlds have to come from the fluffy particles bouncing in our heads. And what influences those mini masses of idea goodness? The world around us. The movies we read, the books (hopefully not too much- there's a word for that ya know ;)) we read, the people we see, songs, whatever.

Some of it is subconscious, we're not aware of the generating kernel, but then it gets large enough to notice and BOOM! There's a full grown idea.

The rest is stolen property. But today I'm going to ramble on about stealing from yourself. Any writer worth their salt has crap they don't like. (If they say they don't see my earlier comment about lying.) Sometimes this is really awful stuff- hideous. The words have to be printed out and carried out to the incinerator. The hard drive must be purged. Women, children, and small fuzzy animals are warned to stay away.

Sometimes it's just stuff that never grew. Ideas stunted in their growth, left alone until they find a corner to hide in. Or projects we've finished, but just lost interest in.

I won't lie- I have a bunch of all of the above.

I wrote my first story when I was 13 or 14. I don't recall much, but I do remember that I used names from Star Wars (yes, I'm that old- do the math folks).
Did nothing with it. Have NOOO idea where it is.

Fast forward to my late teens or early 20's.
Tried another book. Got further this time, I think about 160 or so pages. Not sure where that thing is, but parts of it are rooted in my head, so I can steal from it at will. For example- the main character was named Vaslisha Tor Dain. I stole that name for my main character in Warrior Wench. (A book that was born as a graphic novel concept stolen from a bunch of comics). The two Vas's even look sort of alike. However, the original Vas was a scientist, very bookish. The new one is very very NOT bookish. In the world of Stargate, the original Vas was Daniel Jackson, the new one is Jack O’Neil.

I’ve stolen other character names, ideas, snippets from that book even though I haven’t seen it in a long time.

Concepts get snagged too. I have a few short stories (written years ago for a class- just sold one last fall). One I really liked had a kick ass character in a fantasy world. I didn’t steal her, nor the other main character- but if you look not too hard at the two main characters in the Glass Gargoyle book I’m working on- you’ll see them. I took the “feel” for that book from Glen Cook’s Garret files books. Most likely no one else will notice any similarity (aside from snark ;))- but in my head that’s the type of world for that book.

So I guess my point is HOARD everything you write. Be on the constant look out for cool words, names, ideas and squirrel them away like gold.

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