Monday, February 10, 2014


"I think, therefore I create!"
Since practically the dawn of time (if not earlier), writers have been asked and pondered the question: "Where do ideas come from?"

There are probably as many possible answers to that question as there are stars in the heavens.
If there is a "correct" response, I don't know it.
Personally, I think there are three sources, with the biggest being imagination.
Other people look at a situation and ask "Why?", while a writer will look at the same set of circumstances and ask "What if?"

But regardless of where they come from, what do you do with ideas?

First and foremost: WRITE THEM DOWN!

You may not use it today. You may not use that idea until years from now. But if you don't record them somehow (handwritten notes, storing them in your computer, or whatever), then obviously you won't have them when you need them.

Case in point: I've had the concept of Alpha the superhero for literally decades.
At first I tried producing it in the traditional comic book format, but my drawings were not that great.
When I finally decided to stick with straight prose writing, the very first draft was far from the finished manuscript that became Project Alpha, published by Pro Se Press in 2012.

Cover art by Marc Guerrero
Which leads us to the second contributor of ideas.
You can also draw inspiration from other sources.

The color scheme of Alpha's costume (sky/Columbia blue and white) is also that of my high school alma mater: Aldine Senior High in Aldine/Houston, Texas; and while many people have written about an ultimate utopia, I decided to name mine Shambala after the classic song by Three Dog Night.

There is also a third source: dreams, which is a bit more difficult to explain.
Sometimes, when your mind is on something else, or not really upon anything at all, the ideas flow more freely.
People tend to daydream. It's a natural part of life.
We also have dreams when we sleep, although I'm not about to speculate where they come from.
If you wake up in the middle of the night from a dream with a stray idea or two, find something to jot it down on.

Remember: First and foremost: WRITE THEM DOWN!

Over the past week, I've had dreams about not one, but TWO possible new series! The first would be a revival attempt of the classic swashbuckling space opera genre, although I'll be the first to admit that I have absolutely no idea how you buckle a swash, let alone how you are supposed to sing opera within the vacuum of outer space.
The other? I'm not sure how you would classify it, and I'm the guy who thought of it!

Right now, both of these potential projects are sitting in my idea file until I can clear some room on my schedule after the short story I am currently working on; finishing Alpha, Book 2: Wayward Son, and writing the third Hugh Monn, Private Detective book.
From dream to reality/art by David L. Russell

Will I use them? That remains to be seen. The inspiration for Hugh Monn
came from a dream I had while recovering from open heart surgery in 2007, and his first book wasn't published until 2011, although two short stories featuring the character appeared in the year before that.

But my point is to hang on to all those stray thoughts and ideas until such time as you decide whether or not to use them now, or save them for another time.

There are no time limits on how or when to use an idea, and the only limitations to ideas are those that you might impose upon yourself.

Yet how to go about turning those ideas to finished stories is another subject entirely, and one that must wait for another day, because I've got to get back to my own writing.

See you around the Internet!
Lee Houston, Junior
11 February, 2014

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