1. Ashley Harrison
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    Ashley Harrison Active Member

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    What was it, that helped innovate your best novel ideas?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ashley Harrison, Feb 29, 2016.

    It's apparent that by dint of using 'Writing Forums' everyone on this site is inspired to write, because they're adroit at creating stories and have an intrinsic passion for fiction. What I find interesting, is where inspiration springs from to jolt (how 'Hercule Poirot' might put it; "It is the brain, the little grey cells on which one must rely") the ideas factory in your head.

    One antidotal story I've read online, is about J.R.R. Tolkien. According to the article this was how 'The Hobbit' was born. 'Tolkien was grading college exam papers, and midway through the stack he came across a gloriously blank sheet. Tolkien wrote down the first thing that randomly popped into his mind; “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” He had no idea what a hobbit was, or why it lived underground, and so he set out to solve the mystery'.

    I'm intrigued to know, does anyone have tales of how they came across their most brilliant conceptions, for their novels? The more unique, the better please.
     
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  2. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I watched Star Trek and Cosmos too much when I was a kid. I never had a chance; don't cry for me.

    In honesty, a lot of my ideas come from half-remembered dreams, which sounds ridiculous because it is.
     
  3. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    Are you secretly me? I hope you're not secretly me.

    But yes, half-remembered dreams largely. I tend to be left, not with a plot, but with a particular vivid cinematic image, and I build from there.
     
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  4. Wayjor Frippery
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    Wayjor Frippery Contributing Member

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    I'm currently working on my first novel. I wrote a piece of flash fiction and submitted it for publication. The submissions editor rejected it but said he liked the character I'd created. That character became my novel.

    In the novel he's nothing like he was in the flash piece, but the one became the other via a huge number of what if? questions. That's more or less how I write. What it...? What if...? What if...? Until I hit on something that makes me tingle.
     
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  5. Ashley Harrison
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    Ashley Harrison Active Member

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    I've tried to harness the power of dreams to influence my writing, because I think you have fewer inhibitions, when you function within your own mind.
     
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  6. BadCrow
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    BadCrow Member

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    I got my first ideas when i played video games with my little brother... just small pieces about our adventures. Once i started reading novells at the age of 8 I started dreaming about what i would do in these situations.
    After a tale of the malazan book of the fallen I knew, I wanted to write something. So i took what i always like (aka Dragons) and started forging my little story, when i told my uncle about the plot we had a long conversation about violence and the impact on the mind. So I decided I wanted to do my story differently than the ones I had read so far.
    Two months and 40 pages later i had my little universe outlined and was writting my first short-story.
    In short i took the things i liked (dragons, gods, battles) and combined them with things that matter to me (human connections, the reasons for war, and the struggle for life)
     
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  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Some of my ideas I'm very clear how they spawned. Mainly from their sheer absurdity - one idea was spawned by a ridiculous 80s cartoon. Another by the idea of a man finding a bra and not knowing what it was.
    My first novel came about from a dream about a kidnapped blonde girl. Just one small image generated a first draft over 2,000 pages. With the help of a love for Twin Peaks. :)
    My novella the Worms of Wicher-Woo came from a short story contest on this site. The theme was Baroque. I love baroque vases so that was probably the first thing that came to mind.
    Not Pink came from the annual sci fi contest. I wanted to do the pov from a fantasy creature so I wrote down some choices - Alien, creature and robot and due to time constraints ( I didn't want to create a whole world ) I chose robot.
    Other ideas, I have no idea where they came from - Vosslo probably comes from having known a lot of teenagers who liked to play mind games and a lot of adults who were duped into believing them. Even my WIP is rather foggy - it came out of nowhere while I was working on something else.
    Usually I take notice of something and start to spin off my own ideas. The whole art inspires art thing.
     
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  8. Ashley Harrison
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    Ashley Harrison Active Member

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    'Twin Peaks' is a cornucopia of formulating ideas, in one's own mind. Hurray it's returning. :)
     
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  9. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    A damned doughnut started my now finished collaborated novel No One to Save Her :D

    I was bored out of my mind at my sister's because we'd basically sat around all day babysitting her little boy, and understandably my sister was extremely tired as my nephew never slept well all the way till he was like, 3 years old. Anyway, my sister tried to entertain me by suggesting we go to Krispy Kremes for a doughnut and I was like FINALLY SOMETHING TO DO!!! We hop into the car, drive to the place, and in the time it took to get there, my nephew (then around 2 years old) had fallen asleep.

    So my sister said let's just get a burger king drive-through, eat in the car, and drive straight home because she'd like to put him to bed for his nap instead.

    Now that I have my own baby, I can sympathise - you don't wanna wake your child from their nap, 1. because well, it's kinda mean and 2. interrupted or missed naps equal a cranky child, and a cranky child equals a nightmare rest of the day for the parent.

    But... I was still bored out of my mind. That has not changed. The dashed hopes of actually having something small to do made it all the worse.

    Later that evening, I was on Facebook chatting with my co-author, and I said something on the lines of "We attempted to go out for a damned doughnut" (don't remember exact words now). My co-author found it so funny she told me to write a story based on it, with the line as the opening first sentence. I wanted her to do the same thing because I was interested in see how different our stories might be even though they started from the same point. She, for some reason, thought I wanted to write a collaboration. I thought well, it was probably gonna be 5 pages, so what the heck let's try it.

    Then she wrote the first chapter. We got all excited discussing what could happen next, and by chapter 2 we knew it was gonna be a novel.

    5 weeks and 110k words later, No One to Save Her was born :supercool:

    Unfortunately still my only finished novel because I just can't get the plot right for the one I'm working on myself :superthink::supermad::cry:
     
  10. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    For me it always was music. Listening to songs and my mind made something strange, and sometimes not so strange, from the texts.
    My current MC who I feel real close to came up in just this way.. and so love was born :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2016
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  11. Viridian
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    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    Real life experience for me, at least for two of my main pieces (a novel and a short story), which may sound a bit weird because one is a supernatural thriller and the other is horror !! But honestly, a ghostly experience from early childhood is what kicked it all off. There have been many others since which fuel a lot of ideas. Others, like Fred & Milly (short story to be adapted to full length novel), just popped in my head one afternoon. I also find the writing contest prompts on here brilliant for kick starting ideas, excellent practice.
     
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  12. Ashley Harrison
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    Ashley Harrison Active Member

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    Wow, I'm envious of your surreal real life experiences, to get such compelling ideas from. What's your secret? :D
     
  13. Viridian
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    Viridian Contributing Member Supporter

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    Ha, my husband wouldn't agree with you, it freaks him out. If I told you my secret it would no longer be a secret ;)
     
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  14. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most of mine come from dreams.. But my current WIP was actually inspired (or dramatically pushed forward) by a member on this forum!

    I'd been working on one novel for years. About seven, to be exact. And I got to the point where I could no longer make it work. Too many holes, too many obstacles, just too many problems in general. I didn't like it anymore and couldn't find a way to save it. So I made a post asking for help, and @jannert suggested I take a major element and flip it on its head. It took a couples weeks, but eventually it came together. And I haven't stopped working on it since! It's a completely different story than the original, but I love it and wouldn't change a thing.
     
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  15. Judahml
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    Judahml Member

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    Well, there are two ideas for books that I love to death. I write fantasy, and the first is tied to that, but I just started writing out a timeline of what happens in my world. Just simple things, like when something was invented, or when some area of my world was discovered. Then just thought for a second "well how did that happen? Anything to that? What could have gone wrong?" Some ideas for short stories or just good characters, but then in that there was that moment of "oh man! What if?!" And it grew into one of my favorites.

    The second one that's less dependant on writing Fantasy is, I looked at my favorite book of all time, and dissected it down to its bare bones. Looking for why I loved it. Cutting it mentally down into one sentence. Example "I knew it was my favorite book when...I thought there was no way they could ever pull it off...then they totally did!". Just something as simple and seemingly foolish as that.
    Use it for a writing prompt and see where it takes you.
     
  16. Ashley Harrison
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    Ashley Harrison Active Member

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    I wish I could utilise my dreams more frequently, I need to find a way to channel that capability more accurately.

    Good luck with your novel, hopefully with a few more siestas, you'll have it completed soon. :)

    I've only been on here for a fleeting period of time, but jannert has been helpful and knowledge on the subject of writing.
     
  17. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually only have one story that wasn't inspired by a dream in some way. lol And I have about eight of them in various stages of working.

    And I wouldn't be where I am today without Jannert's advice on that thread. I'd have ditched everything I worked so hard on. The story may have changed, but many of the characters and the setting carried over, something that took me months to craft. So thank you, @jannert!! :D
     
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  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you for saying that. However, I'm just trying to pay forward all the help I've received since I proudly produced my first draft novel ...the one that now makes me cringe when I look at it. :eek:
     
  19. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    Most of my story elements are directly stolen from other stories. The reason my stories are considered original is that I mix and match across genres and media.
     
  20. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, it's strange that music can spur the writing imagination like that. I don't write to music (unless it's to drown out distractions coming from outdoors) but listening to music beforehand certainly gives me story ideas and definitely helps me to visualise scenes.
     
  21. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Aliens Don't Bend at the Knees came about because of two things that happened when I was about thirteen...

    First, I was playing baseball with a gang of neighbourhood kids when a UFO flew over. A few moments later, another flew over following the same flight path. We all saw them and, no, they weren't clouds of swamp gas or hubcaps thrown into the air. They were close enough to make out clearly with the naked eye, no more than a hundred feet away, and there's no way they were faked.

    Shortly after that—the second event—happened when we got a brand spanking new stepfather whose knees didn't bend (because of a car accident). The stepfather turned out to be evil and, years later, these two things (the UFO and the evil stepfather) ended up connected in my mind while doing a drawing assignment in art college. More years later, I came across the drawing and the story just wrote itself... well, more or less. Can you say, 'artistic license?'

    After several drafts, the lack of knee-bending was transferred to other alien characters, the evil stepfather transformed from an illiterate hillbilly into a well-spoken boarder (still evil, though) and the story took on its current form.
     
  22. Holden LaPadula
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    Holden LaPadula Member

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    Deep contemplation about the universe coupled with something a little different; misunderstandings. Sometimes when I'm listening to music I'm not too familiar with and I zone out, I misinterpret the lyrics and the result is often something original and inspiring. Same with conversations, even movies, television... Just listening to ambiguous music, chilling out and thinking deep, really.
     
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  23. ShalaylaW
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    ShalaylaW Member

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    Mine usually uproots itself from previous story ideas. I'll take what didn't work before, mixed with a bit of freaky dreams and a dash of musical inspiration to really make me feel what I'm thinking about. It works, and makes my ideas have this incredible impact.
    Also conversations with my parents always seem to bring fascinating things to the surface XD especially long drives home from work. Once I was discussing my current story with my mom on the way to work, and all of a sudden it just came to me while we were turning off our road. The conversation of my story really made the gears start turning up there :)
     
  24. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    I very often dream my novels. Plots, characters, etc. It is sometimes like watching a movie.
    In one case, a dream was so vivid, I wrote a poem based on it. That poem is now the plot of a major novel that I am developing. The subconscious is an amazing thing.
     
  25. Michaelhall2007
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    Michaelhall2007 Member

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    Someone asked me if I had any regrets. I answered yes but I said I wouldn't go back and change them. He asked why not and I explained, because she now has a child. Anything I change will mean that her child won't be born.
    FYI: My WIP is about a 45 year old man that wakes up one day and it's 1985. He's 14 but has to keep it secret until he's 21 when the child is conceived.
    He has to meet her all over again.
    He also has to break up with her when he's 20 so she can meet the father of her unborn child.
    Only after that can he change the timeline.
    It's better than it sounds, but that's where the idea came from.
    The seed for the ending was planted by someone on a very similar site to this one. It's now a 30 year Groundhog Day.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016

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