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Ideas for Writing
Ideas for Writing
Last week I talked about how important it is to write every day, building a large body of work that can be shown to publishers. It is very hard for a publishing company to make money off of a single-book author so they pay special attention to someone who can provide a steady stream of work that can be sold. The problem comes in that many people have a single story or idea for a book in mind. Even if they can find the time to write every day, they don’t know what to write about. Follow along and I will share some amazing tips and techniques to having a never-ending supply of writing material.
When authors start writing they have that one great concept in mind. The finished book will be near and dear to them, a culmination of effort put into writing a full length novel. I would caution against starting with your prized work. I have seven published novels and will be releasing five more this year yet I still haven’t started working on the concept that got me into writing. I have it outlined and plenty of notes on it, but I am developing my work and my writing style before tackle my big project.
So you need an idea to start a new book. Where do you even being to find something? The best place that I have found for new ideas is going back to old ideas. The reality of the situation is that many of the most popular works today are based off concepts that were written hundreds and sometimes even thousands of years ago. My favorite place to get new ideas is looking through a used book store. I have found a couple book stores in my area that deal in out of print science fiction, fantasy and horror that were written in the 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s. Many of these books are amazingly well written and captivation but the audiences today have never heard of them.
Using these books as a start, I can see new storylines that can be explored, new characters that can be introduced and new methods of conveying the story. When you use older material as your base you must make sure you aren’t flagrantly copying or infringing on any copyrights or trademarks. These are to be used as a guide. But think about it; how many movies have there been about natural disasters destroying the Earth? How many horror movies have been made about a group of kids lost in the woods? How many times can the same fairytale be remade and reimagined?
Using older material as a source to start from is a great way to develop new ideas. My favorite books are ones dealing with the Arthurian Legend and the Knights of the Round Table. Look at how many books have been written just about that legend, each book being written by a different author focusing on a different viewpoint of the story. How many other authors have used the original Le Morte D’Arthur written by Sir Thomas Mallory in 1485 as the basis and guide for their own sword and sorcery books? I’ve written a number of works that feature themes and concepts from that original book in my works.
Using the Arthur Legend as a guide, how many books and movies have been made that feature a modern re-telling of the tale? The Knights set in modern day London or pulling them out of their element and putting the in modern America. How about stories that feature a person from the modern era getting transported back to Medieval England. By using the already known characters or concepts but putting them in different times is a technique that has been used by authors and artists for a long time.
One of the things that becomes very interesting when you go back and look through older books and short stories is how, even though we are living in a very different time than say, 1890, the things that fascinate and scare us haven’t changed all that much. People still have a strange, inherent fear of technology run rampant. People are still afraid of things that go bump in the night. What’s changed is how the material is presented. Obviously the technology is different and that is something that plays into storytelling as well.
Going back even further, as I’ve suggested in other blogs, reading about the mythology that most major stories follow, the Hero’s Journey, you can look to the stories that that mythology was derived from. The Odyssey is a prime example of the Hero’s Journey and is a story that has been used many times to influence other stories and genera’s. The myths about the Titans, Greek, Roman and Norse gods and people from beyond our realm are stories that have been told for ages and still captivate an audience today.
One of my favorite places to look for ideas is books written in the middle ages that transcribe the oral tales that were being told. These were tales of knights and kings, farmers and peasants, as they tried to make their way through the world. Although the times have changed, many of them face the same pressures and problems that we do today. They are great sources for inspiration for material ideas.
Stay tuned for the next few blogs as I discuss more places to discover great ideas for books and characters. I’ll even show a great source for ideas for non-fiction books. To check out my works, please head over to www.leifericksonwriting.com and purchase some of my published works today. Thank you.