Get Annoyed to Find Ideas

“So where do the ideas actually come from? Mostly from getting annoyed about things. Not big issues so much … as the little irritations that drive you wild out of all proportion.”

— from the introduction to The Frood: The Authorised and Very Official History of Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Have you every thought that you can’t come up with a new idea because you’re happy? Well not happy or even content. You’re writing, you’re working, you’re busy, but you don’t have that edge. Or you’re so annoyed about something that has nothing to do with your writing that it’s crowding out your writing thoughts.

Take that annoying thing, or if your not annoyed then look around and find something to get annoyed about, and put that into your story. Get those juices flowing. Take that annoyance and have it impact your story, twist your story, beat your story up. How would an elf queen be annoyed at a telemarketer? What would she do about it? There’s an idea that I have never been done before. Don’t blow any idea off. Your characters, even the really minor, no-name, side characters are going to have to make a living and some of them are going to be greedy, selfish, heartless. Think elf lawyers. Think telemarketing on a crystal ball or magic mirror. How about elven scroll junk mail.

Time and again I have thrown good ideas at a writer friend and had him blow them off. It was like “Casey at the bat”. They just weren’t his style. It’s hard work to come up with ideas and he threw them away without serious consideration. At least, when someone gives you an idea, write it down even if you’re not going to use it, ever.

Those ideas he threw away got used in some of my stories.

You’re going to sit there all smug and say “well, they were your way of writing stories, those ideas would not have fitted my story”. Well, if everyone’s else’s ideas aren’t a good fit for your writing style then stop asking others for ideas.

NO, NO, NO.

A good writer can make any idea work. And that’s the problem, it’s WORK.

In the YouTube video from; Lecture #1: Introduction — Brandon Sanderson on Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6HOdHEeosc&t=3321s Mr. Sanderson talks about an argument a writer (not him) got into with a member of a presentation the writer was giving. The attendee was convinced that a good story depended on a good idea. The writer countered with “Give a good idea to a bad writer and you will end up with a bad story. Give a bad idea to a good writer and he will come up with a good story” (paraphrase). To make his point the writer told the attendee to give him two incongruent ideas and he would make a story out of them. The attendee came up with; a Roman legion and Pokeman. The writer went on to develop a successful (they sold) series of books. He did not say it was easy, but the writer made money with a collection of “Bad ideas”.

The ideas do not need to be good, they do not need to be handed to you on a silver platter, but you are going to have to work to find them, so don’t blow them off when they come to you. No matter how silly or how badly they fit your story. And you’re going to have to work to make your story good.

It does help that the ideas are annoying. It lights a fire under you.

Stay strong, write on, and get annoyed.
Professor Hyram Voltage

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