Writing Wednesday: Idea Farmer

Continuing a series of posts based on my process of writing, today I’m focussing on how I generally get and develop my ideas. I’ve already looked at How I Knew I wanted to be a writer and tools I use for writing (apps and the like), so check those out first if you want to catch up.

No one knows where ideas come from. I like to think there is an immense galactic cow who spews out idea milk all over the universe as she floats across the skies, and you can’t prove me wrong on that. I’ll admit, it is more likely they just come from the realization of sticking two separate ideas together, but that’s not as exciting as space cows. Still, that’s another essay. No matter where the ideas come from, the important thing is that like with a good lover, they come. Now, a core principal of my writing is that I try to subvert stereotypes and cliches so I seem to get most of my ideas from the galactic cow milk that lands on the television.

I see a tired old trope like “Chosen One doesn’t want to have awesome special powers and responsibility, they just want to be like everyone else” and I think how I can change that to make it new. What I came up with, for those who are curious, was “Chosen One was chosen to have no powers at all and wants to be like everyone else who has powers”. You see? That’s the same idea but I’ve completely upset the world to give it a novel approach. That gave rise to my current WIP The Damsel, which I have vaguely discussed here and there. Similarly, my first novel is about a vampire who enjoys having awesome powers, living forever and doesn’t sparkle because I got bored with the way vampires are portrayed in modern media.

I record the idea using one of my tools and then expand it within the same note. The idea is usually a sentence – “vampire who enjoys superpowers and immortality”. I then ask myself questions about each part of it. Why does he enjoy it? Realistically I have to admit that he can’t be aware of the flaws, so he’s got to have a young mindset. Therefore I make him the equivalent of a teenager. They often feel immortal and love their freedom, right? So I’ve heard. But a teenage vampire will still have lived longer than most humans and should have known about the flaws of extended life. Not if I make him insane. Problem solved. I can’t just make him so arbitrarily, I want to keep it grounded. So he’s from a clan of vampires who have a curse – all their members have a unique insanity. I like sneaky, thief like characters so I chose to make him a thief by random chance and then another idea springs from that. Make him a cat burglar, who literally steals cats, and he steals them because he hates them. That’s his insanity; he thinks cats are evil geniuses intent on world domination. It’s a crusade for him. And so, Ramses was born. I’ll talk more about character development in another post. However, in a similar way I develop the first ideas for a plot.

Ramses sounds like the kind of person who is not going to embark on a sensible plot line easily. So I’m left with two options for plot, either he’s going to resist heavily, more so than most characters or he’s going to jump right in on a completely different journey, but still somehow get involved with the intended plot. Since, by concept alone, this is going to be a humorous story, I think the second choice has more impact. So I developed a quest for Ramses. He’s been stealing cats for a while. It’s too easy for him. He’s looking for a grand prize, a challenge to bring back the thrill of the steal. It has to be a special cat this time, and what could be more special (and more stupid) than trying to steal the beloved pet of the city’s ruler? This being a vampire story, it’s not just any ruler, not some steadfast old lady who refuses to move from her chair, but a powerful, stoic vampire prince. Can’t you just see the hilarity already? So Ramses decides to go after this prize, only along the way fate keeps pushing him into a more noble role, despite his efforts, and he gets caught up in a brewing civil war between supernatural races. Then it becomes a tale of how a slacker vampire who refuses to accept responsibility, learns to accept it and take on a heroic role in his community, when the mentally stable were unable to succeed.

In short, I keep asking myself ‘why?’ over and over again until I want to smash my head against my screen. That’s basically how I developed the idea for my first novel, which is complete, and I’ll be releasing chapter by chapter on Wattpad soon – to help raise money to self publish it for reals. So if I’ve caught your interest, like a cat that may or may not be in a box, please follow along. I’d appreciate any support.Follow and share my story, support my Patreon page, if you have some spare cash, and I’ll be giving away fantastic gifts. I love all the people who do!

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