Where do you get your ideas?

15 Aug

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 Responses to “Where do you get your ideas?”

  1. cornerofmadness August 15, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

    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. neshaffer August 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

    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. anomster August 15, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

    Wow. Are you sure your time-travel story was just a story? @>)

  4. neshaffer August 15, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

    It’s only my mind that travels forward in time, like that rat on Lost.

  5. anomster August 15, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Well, that could still explain it!

  6. ponygirl2000 August 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    I think it’s safe to say no one is watching True Blood for the plot.

  7. neshaffer August 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    Well, that’s a shame, because it’s actually getting complex and clever.

  8. cornerofmadness August 15, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    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

  9. neshaffer August 15, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    Well, perhaps I will face the equivalent of the recent criticism of a werewolf movie “ripping off the idea (of werewolves) from Stephanie Meyer!”

  10. ponygirl2000 August 16, 2011 at 12:35 am #

    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.

  11. neshaffer August 16, 2011 at 1:05 am #

    Eek!! Spoilers. I’ll get back to you when I get further on.

  12. ponygirl2000 August 16, 2011 at 1:39 am #

    Oh sorry! I missed that you had only watched a couple eps. Those were very general comments so I’m sure I haven’t given too much away.

  13. neshaffer August 16, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    Only read the first sentence.

  14. cornerofmadness August 16, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    yes because she invented them, snort

  15. neshaffer August 16, 2011 at 3:05 am #


  16. neshaffer August 17, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    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.

  17. neshaffer August 19, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    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.

  18. ponygirl2000 August 20, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    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.

  19. neshaffer August 20, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    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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