Where Do You Get Your Ideas? It’s Sherwood’s Fault

The world is full of ideas. Good ideas. Bad ideas. Crazy ideas. Ideas that jump out at you from a bramble bush and wrestle you to the ground and don’t let you get up until you turn them into a story.

I blame Sherwood for one that attacked me recently and blew an entire day when I should have been writing something, you know, deadlined. But would the idea listen? Or did Sherwood care? Nooooo.

It all started during a casual morning pass through the livejournal friendslist. There was Sherwood, aka sartorias, reflecting on the phenomenon of authors’ .sig lines. Being a wise as well as a very nice person, she was not going to quote the exact words of the lines (plural. Very) that had inspired the post; and being a creative as well as wise and nice person, she made up her own. It was a classically overblown and very funny piece of work. It included the deathless line: Short story “When Cats are Floons,” soon to appear in the anthology CATS ON ICE, Alfred E. Newman Press, October 2010.

I am not a particularly wise or nice person, but I am, perhaps unfortunately, creative. Also, snarky. I commented in passing that the .sig would make, in itself, a very funny short story. To which Sherwood replied, “As I was making it up, I thought, I would actually read a short story called ‘When Cats are Floons.'”

That did it. The first line leaped and caught me by the throat. “Never mind the slithy toves, let me tell you about the time all the cats in the neighborhood splooped into floons….”

Six hours later, I had a story about cats, an alien invasion, and a new definition of floon. (The old one is also apposite.) Further influenced, at that point, by the great truism: The Internet Is Made of Cats.

Attack Idea. Attack Story. Abandon All Hope, You Who Get Ambushed Here.

Welcome to the writer’s life.

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Where Do You Get Your Ideas? It’s Sherwood’s Fault — 8 Comments

  1. Vast numbers of writers got their start by reading a story or book that was JUST bad enough. Bad enough so that they closed the novel and said, “Oh lord, this is a best seller?!? I can do better than -that-!” Or, “Darn it, she handled the heroine exactly wrong — it would have been so much better a story if …” And away we go!

  2. And doing what-if can work in other genres, obviously. What if Becky Sharp had had a girl instead of boy? Given the Fairly Obviously Unpleasant Childhood hinted at in _Vanity Fair_, she was probably not going to warm to a son, and indeed, she did not. But a daughter? That might have turned her into a Larry Niven class Protector. Hmm, throw the situation into a Neat Fantasy World…excuse me, need to go make some notes .

  3. Brenda: OH yes. Green-eyed Monster makes great ideas.

    Jean, that is an awesome idea.

    Imagine a Protector in Becky Sharp’s world….

  4. Let’s see . . . the idea from one of my e-books came from watching a BBC version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s KIDNAPPED. The current one came while watching a Japanese movie with smutty photography. The steampunky one came while reading a call for winter/icy stories. Just an image or snippet of dialog, and POOF, there’s a story.

  5. Is this magnum opus short enough for you to read the first time a bunch of us can get together at a convention? I’d listen to a story called “When cats are floons.” I live with one — he can be three feet long and fly occasionally, though he is but 8 pounds and skinny….