Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mommy, where do ideas come from?

For the remainder of this week I shall steal other people's topics and claim them as my own.

Today I will write about where ideas come from. For most people ideas probably come from a "what if" scenario. Not Dead Yet certainly did. My then boyfriend and I were discussing our zombie contingency plan, and he said he'd want to get to a boat and sail away. That in itself is not that original, but then I started thinking, what would happen after that? What happens once you're free and clear and survive the zombie apocalypse? And a script was born.

I don't remember where most of my other ideas came from. Some came from working at a school, although I've decided I can't write about school. Every time I try I feel like I'm not doing the kids justice.

I have been making a list of ideas to pitch when Not Dead Yet finally gets me some goddamn meetings and every time I think of a new one I write it on an index card and tack it to the magic bulletin board.

One is based on something I saw on the History Channel. I like to think about the minor characters in a given historical event and think about where they may have gone after the event was over. This idea is one of those.

One idea I got from visiting a historical site on a trip a few months ago. A tourguide told us such a cool story I couldn't believe nobody had ever made it into a film. It turns out that they have, but it was a shitty made-for-tv '80s movie nobody saw. This one is currently my favorite pitch because it's the easiest to research.

Another idea I got when I decided to come up with something high concept. I sort of ran through ideas about the future of our planet and suddenly a freaking cool story idea came to me, a considerably more modern idea than the other two.

The current project I'm working on was all science and logic. I decided I wanted to write a martial arts film a la House of Flying Daggers or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon so I made a mental list of elements from those stories. I picked a location with which I am familiar where the story could take place. Then I thought it out. Those films are always about a doomed love. How can I have a doomed love in the place I have chosen to locate my story? I made a list.

I went on like that until I had a story, and oddly enough it has so far been pretty easy to put together. Everything in this story will happen for a reason and will be true to the style I am emulating except it won't be Chinese.

You never know where the stories will come from. Where do you get yours?


  1. After I read your post I went through my “idea” folder. Interestingly enough I can tell you exactly what happened that made me come up with each particular idea. Some examples…

    I had been looking to hammer out a Goonies type reboot in the sci-fi area and came across and very strange and rare phenomenon in a magazine. A little while later I was watching the history channel about UFO’s over Britain. The two stories came together and the trailer started playing in my head.

    One time I saw a sign by a garbage dumpster that would be an awesome title for a movie. I then read an article about a hobby where people take apart speak-n-spells and old toys like and make them do weird shit. Put the two together and bingo, trailer moments.

    I think Stephen King wrote in his book “On Writing” that he takes two completely separate ideas and brings them together to make a story. Every single one of my ideas are a mash up of an article here, a concept there or even simple title and the connection is made. I also read random magazines and books, watch random shows and visit the aggregated news sites (Fark.com, Drudge Report, Google news) constantly. Basically I fill my head with all manner of shit and let nature takes it’s course.

    Then I ask myself a simple question. Would I pay $10 to see this movie? If not I break it apart and wait for something else. If yes then I write a few paragraphs on the idea and stick it in the folder.

    Lots of fun. I wish I could write as fast as I can make up stories.


  2. I get my from IdeasRUs...It's easy, there's a really big selection, and best of all you can order on line (paypal is their vender of choice)...

  3. I love House of Flying Daggers as well. I get my ideas from the same way as you do, but I don't watch the History Channel, although I probably should. I get my ideas from current events or fucked up situations I read about on the news.


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