Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Jump on Those Ideas

I was at the movies last week when this preview aired.

My first thought was "That's my spleen story!"

Now, I'm in no way whatsoever saying anyone stole my idea or anything, because this was a story I published sixteen years ago in a teeny magazine that didn't last long and I doubt many people even read it. It had the same "rent your body parts" premise (It was actually called Rent to Own), but was otherwise completely different. I had always planned to rewrite the story and make it edgier, but never did because the only ending I could think of was that the organ repo guy would find himself in a situation where he had his own leased organ he couldn't pay for and they'd come get him. That felt too predictable to me, so I never wrote it.

Naturally, Repo Men has that very premise. I think it'll work in a movie where it wouldn't in a short story, because movies are visual and we don't mind a little predictability there. And there might be a twist the preview doesn't show.

So what does this have to do with writing?

If you have a great idea, get up off your butts and write it.

Ideas don't exist in a vacuum. I may have thought of this premise years ago, but it's a natural evolution of our culture, where leasing things and getting over extended on credit is getting more and more common. I'm actually shocked it hasn't been done before this. It is a great idea.

If you have a great idea and you plan to "get to it eventually," don't wait too long. Someone somewhere is bound to come up with the idea as well and get there first. We're all exposed to the same things and the law of large numbers says a bunch of us will draw the same conclusions. That's why those summer blockbusters always come in pairs. Two volcano movies, two asteroid movies, two mars movies, two illusionist movies. You've all seen the trend.

Don't just talk about your great idea. Don't dream about "someday" when you'll write it. Get to that keyboard and start putting it down. Because the last thing you want to see is your idea on a movie screen before you can do it.

As for me, I can't wait to see Repo Men. Maybe it'll inspire me to finally find the right ending to my story.


  1. Excellent post! All too true that we spend time saying "We'll get to it" when someone else is already in the process of finishing it! I am glad I put my insecurities down last night, picked up my pen and began to write, it was an amazing feeling, and now I can't put the pen down!

  2. Great post Janice, and so true! I had an idea about two months ago and it's sitting in "compost" mode while I work on another WIP. But last week on Nathan Bransford's blog folks were commenting on their inspirations for stories, and someone mentioned a very similar premise. It was an "Ack! No!" moment. I'm holding out hope that we'll approach the topic at very different angles...

  3. Oh, yes! I've seen my story ideas everywhere. And I know a few others that have suffered the same fate. It feels like a race. One of these days, I'll be the first to get the idea out there. Awesome post!

  4. Pretty much everything has been done before, and it is true that it's all in the execution, but that doesn't take away that "oh drat!" moment when you see your idea :)