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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

World Enough, and Time

Where do stories come from?

As a science fiction/fantasy/horror writer, I often am asked “where you get your ideas?”

Bruce has touched on this question on several occasions, and my honest answer is “I dunno.”

My story starters come from lots of places.  I’ll see a weird street sign or business name, or a bug in a strange location, or a reflection of something that seems weird and outlandish.  Tim Burton said that the idea for “The Nightmare Before Christmas” came from seeing a store pulling out their Halloween stock to make room for Christmas decorations, and seeing the two side-by-side sparked something in his brain.  That’s a pretty good example.

But it’s not an “immediate” reaction.  I can’t always say “this image conjured up that story.”

More often than not, these images drop into my subconscious mind, and ferment for a while...and what comes out may bear no relation at all to the original image that triggered everything.

I do know that when I’m stressed or tired, my subconscious absolutely refuses to offer up any story images or fragments.  It doesn’t matter how hard I stare at the screen, my fingers refuse to crank out any text.

I also know that when my brain reaches a certain boiling point, then those ideas and concepts start hammering on the inside of my forehead, demanding to be written down.  That’s when I start dreaming scenes of my current work in progress almost as soon as I close my eyes.  “Neither Bang Nor Whimper,” my latest Friday Challenge entry, came from a dream.

So, my questions to you, for further discussion...where do your ideas come from?  How hard is it to write when your brain isn’t in the mood, and how hard is it to stop writing when your brain decides it’s time to let the story out?

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