December 18, 2018, 03:27:03 PM

Author Topic: What triggers your ideas?  (Read 568 times)

Offline Eli_Freysson

What triggers your ideas?
« on: November 14, 2018, 05:41:12 PM »
Do you think long and hard for something to tell a story about, or do ideas just plague you?

I'm asking because... well, it takes so very little to trigger something in me that then proceeds to blow out into an entire narrative. And I honestly don't know if it's a good thing or not. Not all of my ideas endure the test of time and badger me enough for me to eventually write them down, but it does mean that I'm constantly carrying way too many of them around.

I'm writing this post because, since SFF is the realm of speculation, I started thinking about the idea of a specifically engineered servant species. As in, they were created to be servile and really only satisfied when doing someone's bidding. Like really needy pets, kept by the aristocracy as servants, bodyguards and status symbols. I started wondering how in-universe characters might see this practice; some would no doubt look askance at it and feel that creating them in the first place was a really creepy thing to do. But on the other hand the species' basic nature can't be changed.

I got the idea that only 10 percent of births would be male, for the sake of making their population easier to control. I then started wondering whether the aristocrats would use them as sex slaves, or if that would be considered degeneracy. The idea formed that individuals of the species might run away in case of bad treatment or frustration with their own ingrained nature... but would inevitably find a cause, organisation or individual to be slavishly loyal to. I envisioned some good drama that could be built around a character grappling with this: Angry and strong-willed, but unable to cope without something to tether themselves to.

And what started all this?

Yesterday I watches the first episode of the She-Ra reboot. The titular character is best friends with a catgirl alien, which at one point is seen sleeping curled up at the foot of She-Ra's bed, despite being the size of a grown human. And my mind just went off on a tangent, because it seemed oddly servile.

And this is just one example. These sparks come out of nowhere, from any direction. I just wanted to know if this sounds familiar to anyone.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2018, 08:23:20 PM by Eli_Freysson »
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Offline Skip

Re: What triggers your ideas?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2018, 07:02:24 PM »
There are triggers everywhere. I had an idea for a locked-room mystery, with the twist that all the suspects are wizards. I had this idea when thinking about what wizards in my world might do by way of a job. Wizards never seem to have a discernible source of income, unless they're in the employ of a noble. So that came from brainstorming.

OTOH, I was walking my dog one day and an image came in out of nowhere: human bodies growing out of the ground like plants. No idea where that came from.

Some come from logic. I was picturing how dwarves would live in Altearth and decided that they wouldn't have the least idea how to farm. So how did they eat? I pictured others farming for them, and it was a short leap to make those be gnomes.

As I worked out the implications of that, I came up with something similar to what you envision, Eli. The gnomes are inherently subservient. They aren't pack animals, but they are cognate to that: a race of beings that cannot bear to live in isolation. They are complementary.

The humans of Altearth found this out the hard way. In an outburst of social engineering, they "freed" the gnomes from the "oppression" of being subservient. Within a generation, most gnomes were homeless, transient beggars. In a burst of social corrective engineering, they were given homes--tracts of land where they could live in their traditional way. You may guess how well that turned out.

Working through the details of that dynamic, even back in the "good old days" has given me a number of useful story angles.
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Offline cupiscent

Re: What triggers your ideas?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2018, 02:32:02 AM »
Gosh, yes, everything triggers ideas. How do you get ideas? Never mind that, how do you stop??

I try to jot them all down somewhere and somehow. (My methods for this have varied over the years; at the moment, I'm using Evernote as a sort of digital bulletjournal and it's working out well.) Sometimes it's just one little thing--a worldbuilding concept, or a moment in a story, or even just a line of dialogue--and sometimes it's a few things bundled in together. I just jot 'em all down. Sooner or later, they start fitting together--or I can start considering if they might fit together, and sometimes generate other ideas in the process--and once I have "enough" bundled together, I start working in serious on turning it into a story.

"Enough" is obviously a completely subjective thing.

And sometimes, even though I think it's enough, it isn't, and when I start trying to write, it doesn't work out. So it goes back into the pot until I get another idea that attaches and fills the gap and ooh, maybe now...

But yeah, I have dozens of partial story ideas sitting around. I try not to worry too much about it. There'll always be another one, after all...

Offline Peat

Re: What triggers your ideas?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2018, 06:21:44 PM »
Put me down as another one who seemingly gets ideas everytime they turn around - with them having grown to full length epic series by the time I've turned back the other way. I genuinely struggle to keep short stories to short stories. I know authors who are nothing of the sort mind, who have one or two ideas and that's it. Might be why they've published more than me. Its not entirely good if you let yourself get distracted from your projects all the time.

Offline ArhiX

Re: What triggers your ideas?
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2018, 05:13:39 PM »
We all experienced that. A sudden flow of ideas that disturbs carefully preparated schemas of the stories made earlier. And what we all need or needed to learn was how to filter them - not make them stop. Believe me - if you will try to make them stop, and somehow succeed you will regret it. Really, really hard.

Ideas come to me, but not without my permition. I take an idea, put it into a slow-cooking mode in a furnace that has "Much Thinking" on its signboard and... wait. Usually after a minute, or an hour or a day (sometimes months) the idea is fully baked or fermentated and it just pops into my mind fitting into a general wiev of my story or world like a hand to a glove. Even ideas that were too hard to fit so I abandoned them utterly.

Sometimes I think that I have some other Arhi, trapped in my mind. He does not have much to do, so he just takes ideas, polishes them, and when the time is right, he whispers in my ear: "Hey! Hey! I thught you could make use of THIS. Here. Have it."

I like this other Arhi.
"The world is full of stories, and from time to time, they permit themselves to be told."

Offline Lady Ty

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Re: What triggers your ideas?
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2018, 04:53:15 AM »
@ArhiX I love the idea of your Much Thinking furnace with the Master Chef Arhi who knows when they are just right. ;D
Good to see you around again.
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Offline ArhiX

Re: What triggers your ideas?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2018, 05:08:59 AM »
Thank you. It is good to be back here. Althought I lurked and stalked forums quite often since june.
"The world is full of stories, and from time to time, they permit themselves to be told."

Online ScarletBea

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Re: What triggers your ideas?
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2018, 10:59:21 AM »
Thank you. It is good to be back here. Althought I lurked and stalked forums quite often since june.
Whenever I try just lurking it never lasts, as I can't stay silent for long ;)
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Offline Skip

Re: What triggers your ideas?
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2018, 02:29:54 AM »
Thank you. It is good to be back here. Althought I lurked and stalked forums quite often since june.
Whenever I try just lurking it never lasts, as I can't stay silent for long ;)

They also serve, who only sit and lurk.
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