Where do you get your ideas?

My old novel, the one I’m trying to get out the door now like a twenty-something child that’s overstayed their childhood, has a few plot points and characters in it that people will assume I pulled from own life.

And they’d be wrong.

For example, there is a Quebecois character who predates my teaching stint in Quebec, who predates me even imagining I’d ever live there, by three years. And I have scientists using MRI scanning in their brain research that predates me working for MRI brain scientists by six years. Now, I’ll grant you that these weird life coincidences were an unexpected windfall for researching story elements that already existed, but since the life experiences were jobs that I managed to get out of the blue, it’s not like I took those jobs to do research for my novel.

There are other things people might assume I know very little about that I didn’t read in a book, like the Native American character who is based partially on my old live-in girlfriend of four years.

So where did I get the idea for a French Canadian character and using MRIs as a research tool? Who knows, I honestly don’t remember. But I’m sitting here this morning bemoaning the fact that one of the major plot points of my new story appears to be a major plot point of Season 4 of True Blood. Now, granted, I can’t say that for sure yet, having only seen two episodes so far, but there will be people who will assume I took my plot from that, even though it predates the season by two years and was an attempt, when I came up with it, to turn a common fantasy trope on its ear.

There are no new stories, I guess, only new angles.

19 thoughts on “Where do you get your ideas?

  1. those are some very odd coincidences.
    I think that what annoys me most is how many ideas i had in the 80’s that i was a) either not good enough to write well yet or b) was told were bad ideas and now I see them everywhere, like the psychic detectives.I could have been on the cutting edge of that mystery trend had I had more experience and more confidence

  2. I am not a good idea-generator, which is why I write so few stories. So when my one great idea in the past decade gets riffed, I get a bit testy.
    I guess I just need the confidence to decide I can do it fresher and better than them.

  3. i stand by the old Biblical saying ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’ and if it was true thousands of years ago, it still is.
    we just need characters and situations interesting enough to hook the reader

  4. I haven’t seen last night’s episode, but I am finding it hard to figure out who we’re supposed to be rooting for this season. I mean I think Pam is fabulous and I love snarky non-amnesia!Eric but the witches have a point – the vampires seem to kill, torture and mind control too frequently for them to move about unrestricted. The only person who ever seems to have logical responses to situations is Tara and she’s always at odds with Sookie. I’m just not sure where any of it is going and not in a good way.

  5. I’m caught up to episode 7 now. Enjoying the irony of Fiona Shaw playing a witch.
    Sookie’s reactions to vampires always troubles me a bit. I know if the witches succeed, the show will be over, but I don’t see them being wrong in the larger sense.

  6. Now have watched episode 8. I don’t think there’s supposed to be a side we’re rooting for… yet. Any battle that pits Tara on one side and Sookie on the other is meant, textually, to be a no-win scenario.

  7. I don’t know, I get the feeling that Bill’s arguments were a bit authorial – Antonia had been terribly wronged but no reason to be bigoted and take it out on all vampires. Except all the vampires they keep showing us regularly do horrible things without remorse. I worry that they’re just going to make Antonia evil and have everyone turn against her, with Tara somehow won over by Bill saving her life (though he pretty much admitted he did it because of Sookie!) and everything else getting swept under the rug. Not that I want Pam to rot but I don’t think the show is giving morality a lot of thought.

  8. Oh, yeah, if Antonia = wrong in this scenario at the end, I won’t trust these writers again. They’re already on dicey ground with Sookie falling into Eric’s arms just because he “lost his memory”, even *after* he drained that fairy dry.
    (If Sookie is going to take the attitude that the fairy doesn’t count because they’re not human she’s seriously asking for some internalized self-negation stuff).
    I think Bill turning into a politician is an interesting turn of events, even though it makes him unsympathetic.
    And I used to like Pam, but she’s been pissing me off quite a bit lately.

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