Friday, May 6, 2011

Eureka! This is the greatest idea EVER!

Since I started these insightful tutorials and helpful posts about the realm of creative writing there comes a time where some people just get stuck at the worst part, the beginning.  How does one come up with a unique idea?  Where do you go when you've got the concept?  Will your audience understand what you are trying to accomplish?  All this and more on this week's From the Mind of Dr. Legend!  (Special thanks to my fiancé for suggesting this topic)

                So, you're sitting in front of your computer monitor, staring at a blank word processing screen and thinking "what the hell am I doing?"  Don't worry; this happens to the best of us at time.  Writers conveniently call this "writer's block" but the point is, everyone goes through it at one time or another.  Sometimes long, other times short.  Getting discouraged is out of the question.  We all can empathize what you're going through and we're here to help.

                Coming up with a unique idea from scratch isn't as easy as it sounds and sometimes it is.  The guys at Mega64 came up with their entire premise and show concept by writing 8 words on a napkin and now they've blown up to unfathomable proportions since.  Agent M, on the other hand, was a long drawn out process that took me at least 6 months of planning to get the premise firmly planted and another 7+ years to actually write and I'm still stuck trying to sell this concept to potential agents and publishers.

                What usually drives a creative writing project from concept to beginning is usually an epiphany of some kind.  Let's try an exercise.  Sit back, close your eyes and think about all of the books you've read, movies you've seen, and games you've played.  With all of those individual memories swimming in your head, try and think about something that is unlike all of those individual ideas.

                ...  Keep'm closed.  This might take a while.

                Still stuck?  Don't worry about it.  Nowadays, all of the good and original concepts have been taken.  The internet age has exploded everyone's creative since the audience is now easier and cheaper to reach.  So, what do we do about it?  There are still some ways to get around outright plagiarizing other ideas so you can call them your own.

                For example, there is something I like to do called "the opposite effect".  Let's take a high fantasy world as our setting and our main character is a magician that is trying to find a hidden relic.  Pretty standard, right?  Well how about this then.  Instead of our main character casting spells, what if he absorbed them instead?  The guy/girl can't cast a spell to save their life yet they can't be harmed by them either?  Why is that?  Who knows!  But you've got a great jumping off point from there by taking something that is already engraved in the minds of readers and created something unique to compliment it.

                Another method to jump start your creative writing endeavor is to start a concept you're already familiar with.  I created the Agent M series while I was working as a volunteer police assistant at my university.  Writing a crime story just came natural to me.  While this might not work for every profession, it can work to make compelling characters.  My theory in life is that no one in this world is boring, it's just that some can tell better stories than others.  Even while working a number crunching job that steals a part of your soul with each punch in, that could be a great segue into something more.  It's always the quiet ones that surprise you.  You show me a computer analyst and I'll show you a White Knight itching to come forth.

                Remember to always look within yourself and you'll surely find something interesting to write about.  If not, make something completely outlandish and out of this world.  Either way, find something that makes you happy and keep at it.  You may not strike gold with your first swing (more on that story someday) but as long as you keep driving, the creative writing journey never ends.


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