Where do you get your ideas from?
It’s a question I’ve always hated. Always. I’ve been telling stories of some sort since I was about seven. I’d sit on the floor of the apartment with my action figures, and I’d tell stories about them or with them. I’d build contraptions and bases with my Lego, Lincoln Logs, K’Nex, the cardboard tubes from paper towels and toilet tissue, and wool blankets (if you haven’t built a wool blanket cave for your action figures, you’re missing out), and I’d tell all kinds of stories told. I’ve only gotten more sophisticated over time.
Where do your stories come from? I’ll tell you, and you’re going to be surprised:
I’ve found that creative people do a lot of different things: read; watch tv, movies, documentaries; listen to music; they have experiences. That’s everywhere and everything in broad strokes, isn’t it? Story ideas come from everywhere.
All of this stimuli gets downloaded into their brain, and it simmers and stirs. The creator then does one simple thing. This is where the magic really happens. They ask a simple question:
These two little words are very, very powerful. These two words are the start of stories. The stories get their foundation from the stimuli that creators fill themselves up with, but it doesn’t come together into any kind of exploration and coherence until the creator asks the simple question of “What if?”
Once the question gets asked, the exploration begins. The quest to see if the story is both interesting and viable. To see if the story has an end, and will also be entertaining.
This answer, however, isn’t always what someone wants to hear. Not the non-creator. They want to hear more about the “mystical” or “fantastical” aspects of creation. “I don’t know where the idea came from. It just popped in there, fully formed.” This is a lie. The idea is actually a concoction of stimuli from other places, over time.
Where do you get your ideas? Be prepared to answer this question, because you’re going to get it.