Monday, January 20, 2014

The magical mystical writing process now explained

What's wrong with asking, "Where do you get your ideas?"?

 by Meredith Cole

There is a moment at every book signing when the audience is asked if they have questions. Inevitably someone gets up and asks the dreaded question, "where do you get your ideas?"

The question really shouldn't be dreaded. I mean, most authors have some idea where they get their ideas for stories. They can tell you that they read a newspaper story that got them thinking, "what if?" Or they started to think about someone they knew and wonder what would have happened if someone like that were a murderer... And so on.

But I think the question is dreaded because we know that the asker is hoping for an easy answer. Perhaps they've always wanted to write but they don't like the idea of actually typing. They what to know how to skip ahead of everyone else with the real secret to writing and just cash a James Patterson sized check. If they could know how to tell a good idea for a bad idea, and knew where they could find a million amazing ideas--what would be stopping their career?  But we all know that the secret is... that there is none. And we hate to be the one to bust their bubble.

The truth is we all have great ideas--and bad ones. But a great idea does not magically morph itself into a great book. It takes a lot of energy and talent to write a great book, good idea or not. And there are no short cuts.

So where do I get my ideas? From dreams... From the newspaper... From overheard conversations... From somewhere in the magical mystical writing process. Where do you get yours?


Paul D. Marks said...

Meredith, I think you hit the nail on the head, or several nails. People do want easy answers. Or some are just mystified that a writer can come up with these ideas when they can't fathom how. But I think of people who invent CAT scan machines and the like and I can't fathom how they do that. So we each have our own road to travel. As for where I get my ideas, as you say, they're everywhere, they're in the air. You just have to see them for what they are. Some people can, others should be building CAT scan machines.
-- Paul

Meredith Cole said...

Excellent point, Paul! I say thank goodness there are people out there who can build CAT scan machines--and people who can write wonderful stories. We definitely need them both...

Susan C Shea said...

Oh Meredith, you are so right. I know I wince because I think inside that question and others like it is just what you're saying, the questioner's conviction that this writing a book business is like a lottery - get the right ticket and the rest is gravy. (Love Paul's observation!)

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