Sunday, 22 May 2011

Being an Author: Ideas

We've all had it, haven't we? "So where do you get your ideas from?"

And there's the standard reply, "An author looks at what's around them, listens, and takes their ideas from the world that they see."

Pah! I call tosh! These people that believe this to be true, what are they, romance novelists? Celebrity Biographers? I'll tell you what they're not. Horror writers. If I was taking my inspiration from the world around me - with the crazy, off-the-wall, batty as fruit bats, bonkers horrorathons that I write - I wouldn't be here. I'd be locked away somewhere, and better off for it. In Static Movement's The Cedar Chest my opening lines describe a scientist stitching the corpses of his whole family back together, in an attempt to reanimate them. (It's called Family Union. Can you see what I did there?) Yeah, I heard someone talking about that on the bus one day, and thought I'd make a story out of it. (True story)

So anyway, horror writing. Another standard answer: Write what scares you. (You, not me. You don't know what scares me - it's hamsters with x-ray vision and rocket launchers. I dread the day they take over. All hail our new dolphin overlords.)

So where do I get my ideas from? That's easy. Nowhere. What I mean is, well, I just sort of get them, mostly, but I'll come to that in a minute.

See, when I'm writing horror - which is most of the time - my stories don't scare me. Mostly because I either know what's coming, or I want something to happen. Let's say that I can only write what scares me. How many x-ray visioned, tooled up hamster stories can I truly write? So I write what disturbs me. There is actually a vast difference.

So having discarded my hamster story as slightly stupid and not very likely to scare a four year old, I have to move on. The disturbing is much easier to grip. I find the concept of hell disturbing. I'm not saying that it scares me, or indeed whether I believe in it or not, but hell, look at it. Burning bodies, the devil, sorry I could go on, but I'm not your muse, so, etc. It's disturbing. Write it.

Spiders? Scared of them? No? Well make them eight foot tall with killer hamsters glued to their backs. Now it's disturbing. See? Write what disturbs you - not what scares you.

Anyway, so what happens when you have no ideas? Some people will say, Ha! Writers block! No. It's just that I'm not really in the right frame of mind. When this happens you need a go-to-guy. If you haven't got one, get one. (I've got two)

So, I've got two go-to-guys (they don't have to be guys, just non-vegetitive sentients). One helps me with grammar and the other stuff I suck at, and the other, story flow and on occassion, ideas. I'll say 'prompt me' and he'll blurt out 'vampire zombies fighting alien werewolves' and then we'll both laugh. But it's a catalyst. Vampire Zombies? It could work.

It's no different than a open call from a press asking for, I dunno, stories about one legged ninjas.

So I've rambled. Again if you don't like it, comment.

'Til next time...

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