Thursday, June 18, 2009

"Where do you get your ideas?"

That question makes me freeze.

I don't know where they come from, they're just these little green goblins that plunge into my cerebrum, bouncing up and down like a pool of Jell-O. Sometimes my ideas come from a piece of art that triggers something in my brain, or a story I have just read that urges me to produce something as compelling as the author's piece. Once, a few years ago, I fused and elaborated on two, hard news stories I read in the paper.

J. K. Rowling, author of the
Harry Potter series, said that "Harry just sort of strolled into my head, on a train journey. He arrived very fully formed. It was as though I was meeting him for the first time."

But, simply, author R. L. Stine has said that he generates his ideas by asking himself "
What if?"

What if?

It's that simple. And effective. I use it all the time in
all of my writing be it horror or (attempted) romance. Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, must have used in it his short, horror story "Genesis and Catastrophe: A True Story."

Think of the "What if?" as a water fountain. You start with a basin (the idea), add water (paragraphs), plug it in (editing) and the outcome is exquisite: a water show extravaganza that people can't seem to take their eyes off of.

Now it's your turn. Write a story that constantly makes you answer the "What if?" factor. Refer to "The Nightmare Room Writing Program" for examples and exercise.

"Horror, for me, is the compelling
'don't want to look/must look' sense of awe
we feel under the breastbone."
~Mort Castle

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