Charlie Stross on Ideas

Thanks everybody for the votes on the new header.  I’m gonna let it go a little bit longer and then make a decision.  I will admit I’m a little surprised with the results.

If you’re into science fiction and fantasy you should definitely be reading Tor Book”s blog, Tor.com.  I check it out several times a day, and there’s always something interesting there to read.

Just yesterday, they had an awesome column written by writer Charlie Stross titled  “Where do you get your ideas?”. Turns out this is a question he gets quite a bit.  Here’s a particular excerpt that I really liked (emphasis mine)

Unlike Roger Zelazny I don’t leave a glass of milk and a plate of cookies out by the door; unlike Harlan Ellison I don’t use a mail order supplier in Poughkeepsie. (Or is it the other way around?) I don’t invent invent neat new ideas at all. Instead, I trip over them—because they’re lying around in heaps. The trick is to pick several up at the same time and smush them together until some of them stick to each other—creating something new and interesting

Generating ideas isn’t some mystical talent that you have to be born with: it’s a skill you can develop.

Isn’t that the thing.  It seems everybody has a story idea or they think the ideas of others were the key to their success.  Haven’t we all heard, oh that JK Rowling.  I wish I had thought of that idea.  The idea of an orphan that discovers a special gift or talent and changes the world isn’t that unique of an idea.  It’s a theme that has been around for a while.  It was what Ms. Rowling did with that idea that made the difference.

Charlie Stross ends the article with something I’ve learned as I’ve gained experience as a writer:

Remember: ideas are the easy bit. The rest, as the man said, is perspiration.