Sunday, January 4, 2009

Which Ideas do You Wish You'd Come Up With?

With the festive season slowly receding, that time for giving, and celebrating, and letting everyone know just how much we love them, what better time to eye-ball other people's stuff and go into a jealous rage?

My question: what story idea/s do you wish had been yours, and why?

My first answer would have to be: everything from Babylon 5! Such a great story. Apart from the occasional overly-convenient wrap to an episode, B5 was an absolute powerhouse of ideas, and characters, and tensions, and philosophical analogy. Damn, that's some good stuff, and I'd have loved to come up with all that.

In reality, it was J. Michael Straczynski who came up with the main idea, and he planned out all five seasons, but the screen writing was done by a team. I guess if I'm up against a genius and his writing army, then I don't feel too bad about not getting there first.

Perhaps oddly, I would have liked to come up with The Prince of Tides, too. The book is incredible, and I love the way modern issues are dealt with (such as ethnic minority, cultural tradition, feminism, and individuality... so much!) while the story of a troubled family is slowly brought to the fore. I've seen the film, too, but I can't remember if it had the same ending as the book. I do recall that 'the sister' wasn't very much in evidence, whereas she's a much bigger presence in the book, you get more visits to the hospital, and more flashbacks, many of which include horrific and/or disturbing scenes. The book made me cry, and that's very rare between me and fiction, so that's one of the reasons I'd like to have come up with the whole idea.

There are a few more, but I can't think of any specific at the moment.

How about you guys?

9 comments:

Bookworm1605 said...

Hmmm, this was tougher than I thought it would be. There are lots of novels, films and even television shows that I enjoy experiencing but it's difficult to say which really make me green with envy.

I'd have to say I love Saberhagen's Amber series--the idea of the eternal city and its infinite spectrum of shadows. Ditto for his Swords series.

Zelazny's Lord of Light tops my list of story ideas I'd love to steal--just the right mix of sci-fi with religeous and moral issues.

And I have to mention Herbert's Dune. Same elements as Lord of Light but on a grander scale and with the added complication of family politics. Awesome stuff.

But the aspect of creativity that I'd most love to be able to steal isn't an idea in and of itself, but rather a style. I'd love one day for someone to be able to say that I wrote with the same almost supernatural combination of passion, depth and visceral directness that Robert E. Howard did. That kind of writing can make any idea seem worth stealing

Ink said...

I'm with Book, in that this is a tougher question than it seems on the surface. I'm not sure I've ever really had that pure jealousy feeling, that "I wish I'd written this book" feeling.

I mean, there's times where I wish I'd thought of the premise first... but the book I'd have written would have been quite different, so that's not quite the same thing. The best book I've ever read is called Strange Piece of Paradise, and it's about a woman who, with a friend, decides to take summer break to ride across the U.S. on a bike. They stop one night and set up camp, only to have a man drive his pickup truck down into the campground and run them over. And then get out and attack both girls with an axe. The story then follows the woman's recovery (they both miraculously survive), and then how later in life she returns to the area to try and track down who did this to her, for the case had never been solved. That's the best book I've read... except it's not fiction, but rather a memoir. Yep, a true story. So, while it blew me away, well, I can't really want to have written it, since it's so utterly and completely tied up with the life and thoughts of this particular writer. A lot of great books, to me, are this way. They are so unique... and yet so different from me, which is maybe why they fascinate me so much. But I couldn't see myself having written such a specific thing, or wanting to.

Now, there are great books that inspire me with their sheer quality, and make me want to write something just as good. Anne Patchett, Tim O'Brien, Javier Marias. I mean, I've read some Ian McEwan the last couple years, and his technical mastery of voice and pov gets me going. Cormac McCarthy fills me with a sort of awe. The odd wonder of his diction... maybe there's a bit of jealousy there. :) His odd style, almost entirely exterior, full of description and dialogue and almost no internal thoughts, intrigues me. It's stark and amazingly evocative and I love it... but it's not really me. I love the odd twists of thought through memory, through the descending layers of consciousness (that's why I love Javier Marias)... I love it, but I don't necessarily want it for me.

If I had to pick a book that maybe I'd wished that I had written, well... I'd probably pick Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, both for its quality and for the way many of its themes and ideas and characters resonated with me in a very personal way. Certain dynamics within that story were so familiar that it was almost as if I could have written it, or something similar. An odd feeling. That's the closest I'd come, I think, to that feeling.

Wanu said...

Check this out, this links with a lot of what we've been discussing - art imitating art, borrowing, mixing up absorbed sights and sounds and re-creating them in new contexts...

(Content warning: graphic animated violence and blood, and if you're a big fan of Superman, you might want to give this a miss!)

Superman Doomsday - I'm looking at the sequence from 4.09 to 4.45

If you storyboarded this sequence from 4.09 to 4.45, it would look exactly the same as if it had been created for the thing it reminds me of. It's uncanny.

Whiz this forward to 5.38 to see what the Superman clip reminds me of

The Superman Doomsday animated film was released September 2007, so if there has been pilfering it could be that a young member of the production team has inadvertently stolen the imagery. Or it could be the product of chance/coincidence/, or could be deliberate stealing. Or... the animated film is supposed to be a little maverick in terms of how they've presented Superman etc, but it is, according to Wiki, at least loosely based on the DC Animated Universe that lasted from 1992-2006, with a few allusions to the older series, as well as the Fleischer Superman series, found in the Fortress of Solitude.

I haven't watched any of those, so it's possible that this idea was a superman original, and the Warchowski brothers are the ones who've done the pilfering.

Ink said...

why linky linky no work?

Wanu said...

Oh! I don't know. Probably because I tried to be too clever and messed it up. Never mind, I can give you the urls to c&p:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oYbcSM0fBrg

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=GCcM5cRtEok

Ink said...

That is kinda spooky... I think the basic idea is pretty generic, and could crop up pretty easily in a lot of places. But the sequencing... that is a little eerie. How they pan down into the city, the blast and ripple...

Hmmmm...

Wanu said...

In relation to all we've been talking about, you simply must see this. Deliberate, and tongue-in-cheek, pilfering among movie makers, and I would never, ever, have spotted it: The Wilhelm Scream, apparently a sound effect, and not, as you might expect, an actual piece of acting...

http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2008/05/26/the-wilhelm-scream-the-amen-break-of-movie-sound-effects/

Wanu said...

Oops! (again!) A one-time piece of acting, rather, and thereafter a sound effect.

Ink said...

Yeah, I've heard about stuff like that, with recorded sound effects that were used over and over again. You know, this one's for whenever you need "breaking glass", this one's for a "car horn", this one's for a
"passenger train". Lazy... but quick and cheap! I'm a sucker for a sale...