When you claim to be a writer, amongst the many questions you get – normally right after “Do you write all day long?!”
– is “Where do you get your ideas from?” I’ve discussed this before, but sometimes a person will then follow this up with, “Do you have any ideas that didn’t work?” Curse having intelligent friends!
Oh God, a thousand times yes!
Like the story about the computer that wanted to become human so it killed people because it worked out through the Internet that the most talked about people killed lots of other people.
That one reached a half-way through the first draft stage.
But there were some that stopped at the “idea” phase.
There was the werewolf on Mars idea. Two moons, so double the changableness, and lower gravity, so it could be stronger and faster and more eviller. And no atmosphere, so the werewolf died.
Damn you, scientific accuracy!
Then there was the great little idea about the twins, one of whom was killed and her spirit took over her twin sister’s body, and the two spirits fought for control and ended up killing her/their mother.
Then there was a great children’s story about a wallaby who wanted to be a kangaroo, but the only way I could end it was by having the kangaroo killed by a hunter-type person.
And of course, the standard favourite of ever writer of fantasy everywhere – the Conan-lite character with a big sword, big muscles, big appetite for food and women and small vocabulary. He kills other people. I wrote 40 pages before I realised he actually wasn’t doing anything except killing people. No quest, no purpose, just senseless violence. I was ahead of myself, as it turned out – later on this would become the staple of anything involving Vin Diesel.
There was the one about the kid who (get ready for this originality) woke up to find he was suddenly older! Oh, the hilarity! Oh the… rip-off from any of 100 films and books out there. I even wrote seven chapters before realising just what I was doing.
How about the giant sea monster who attacks Sydney before it is impaled on one of the arches of the Opera House? Or the woman whose baby isn’t hers, even though she gave birth to it? Or the man whose garden kills him? Or the room of school kids who kill their teacher? Or the guy who gives up his job to go hunting for ghosts, only to be killed by a werewolf (with the end line “ghosts don’t exist, silly”)?
To be perfectly honest, more ideas fail than succeed. But that’s okay. Every failure only makes us stronger. Now, if I can only convince myself that that is actually true and not just the words from a motivational poster that you would stick on your fridge.