I think my name might give it away, but I am a writer. Published? Yes and No. I was accepted not long before the publication fell through, and when it came back they had lost half of the work they had accepted, mine included. No e-mails were sent or anything, so you can bet I wasn’t exactly happy. But that is neither here nor there. I just wanted to state my qualifications.
Anyway, so “What’s in an Idea?” Well, lots of things, really. Everything and nothing at once with a dash of optimism, pessimism, and cynicism for flavor. With that vague description in place, we can move on. No? You want something less philosophical? Fine.
An idea according to the dictionary is:
- A thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action.
- A concept or mental impression.
Let’s take William Golding’s Lord of the Flies as an example. My more recent interpretation has a religious spin on it, and I’ll tell you how I got there. The title of the book is also a title for one of the 7 Princes of Hell, Beelzebub. Each Prince was also aligned with a deadly sin. Satan was Wrath, Lucifer for Pride, and Beelzebub for Gluttony.
What does that have to do with anything? Well, at the end of the book, Piggy gets killed. He is the glutton, the fat kid, and it’s only after this happens that they are saved. So, from a religious perspective, they had to kill a devil among them in order to be saved?
But wait? Piggy’s a devil now? It’s something I could write a paper on, and there’s so much more, but I wanted to give the most basic of descriptions. The point is, how did I get to this interpretation away from the traditional microcosm of society approach? Well, I was bored one day and decided to look up Christian Mythology. (The root of Mythology is Mythos, the Greek word for Story. So I looked up Christian Stories. Don’t panic!) I read about the seven princes, and Beelzebub, and an idea sparked, changing my opinions of this book forever. That is the power of an idea.
Now the tagline for this blog is “Ideas are dangerous, so let’s play!” The basis for this is from Oscar Wilde who said “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” I’m not the biggest fan of his works, but I appreciate the sentiment. Ideas are what pushed humanity forward. Without them, we would never have the wheel, or electricity, or aerosol spray; and any idea that would change humanity is almost always challenged and fought, tooth and nail, as we, as a society, fear drastic changes.
Copernicus changed everything when he states his theory on the heliocentric model of the universe. Had Charles Babbage completed his Analytical Engine, we might have had a semblance of computers nearly 100 years sooner. When the CD came out, people fought for the tape cassette. Then the same thing has happened in the change to .mp3 files. VHS to DVD wasn’t all that long ago either, and people still fight.
Ideas are a powerful thing, and so now, I want to get to them in regards to writing. There’s no such thing as a bad idea in what you want to write about. The only thing bad about it, is how you approach it, and even that is debatable.
In particular, I’m a writer of fantasy and science fiction. Now, there are a lot of archetypes, tropes, themes, etc… that run their courses through all of them. Let’s face it, Elves are here to stay, and so are the Dwarves. Should they ever stop bickering, we might be in trouble. What about new ideas though? Where’s the fantasy about someone struggling to survive in a dominating religion? What about a fantasy with ugly Elves and seafaring Dwarves?
In writing, our ideas can push boundaries to expand the genre into something bigger, broader, and better. Let’s look at Steampunk for a moment. In a way, it has a foundation in science fiction. It is all foreign technology, or tech that has advanced a particular way from what we know, and yet we find it fantastical in nature. It tends to be adventurous, and exactly what we’d expect in Fantasy. And thus, the genres overlap. George R.R. Martin and some of his friends work on the Wild Cards mosaic novels. Here we have alternate history and super heroes wrapped together. Alternate history is a type of fantasy. Super heroes, and how the come into their powers tends to be in a science fiction realm. So now we broaden the fantasy genre once more. Let’s leave fantasy and look at horror. Dracula was based on Vlad the Impaler, and actual historical figure. We saw the vampire story broaden into something iconic. Now let’s throw some glitter in there, and we get something else that was (unfortunately) iconic in our lifetimes.
We could spend hours on this and never be near completion. The UK news site, The Daily Mail, posted an article on Fifty Shades of Grey. It became the best selling Kindle book ever. “Sales of the book, the first in a trilogy, have overtaken the Harry Potter books and The Da Vinci Code.” It started as Twilight Fan Fiction. That is the power of an idea.
Finally, let’s get to the heart of the matter. “What’s in an idea?” Honestly? Everything. Nothing. My vague description from before is the best answer that I can give. That’s why, no matter what the idea, keep writing. Maybe it’ll be a flop. On the other hand, you might change the world, create a best seller, change someone’s mind on a topic, or at the very least get one more burning itch out of your brain.
So, yeah… Keep writing.