On my web (www.ericjgates.com) I have a section entitled Tips & Tricks which, although primarily of interest to fellow writers, contains some interesting reading for everyone.
Recently I wrote a section on Creative Inspiration - which I subtitled with the question most writers have been asked at one time or another: So where DO you get your ideas? As an ex-management consultant, I tend to take an analytical view of the subject matter for these sections, while retaining a chatty presentation to keep matters interesting.
In the article I talked about steps I take to create ideas for my novels. But, something strange and wonderful happened the other day, which just goes to show the "scientific" approach isn't the only solution.
I was born with an eidetic memory which manifests itself in my being able to recall everything I have ever read. Before you remark how lucky I am, believe me it does have a down side. I originally read that marvellous novella "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens when I was eight. When Christmas time comes around I usually find myself "replaying" the book in my mind. This year was no exception. On Boxing Day I sat down in the early evening for a quiet moment, after having spent the day running around doing all sorts of errands, and found my "inner eyes" reading this tale. A fleeting thought passed through my mind. Dickens wrote this in 1843, and it reflects the social and cultural environment of that era with exquisite accuracy. Almost one hundred and sixty years later, thanks in great part to the worldwide financial crack of 2008, some things do not appear to have changed that much.
Well, after putting in time on the keyboard, working on the current novel, I finally called it a day about two-thirty in the morning. I was tired and yawning as i switched off the computer and headed for my bed. Sleep, however, was not to be my reward. Four-thirty found me sitting in the lounge with a notebook open before me, scribbling a five hundred word outline for an updated "A Christmas Carol", complete with characters names, motivational notes, detailed plot, and even one major change in the order of the Ghosts' appearance. Also, being me, I had developed a number of Winks (such as the names of certain characters and the organization one in particular represented). This took me a little over half an hour. When I had filled several pages of the notebook and ended the tale with Tiny Tim's famous blessing, I slumped back and asked myself "what had just happenned?" Was the Ghost of Christmas (Past, Present or Future, or maybe Mr. Dickens') playing games with me. Was I now a Ghost Writer? Was my own Muse overflowing with Christmas Spirit? Was it all a dream?
Upon waking the following morning, my first trip was to the lounge to see if I had in fact written the outline. There it was, just as I had left it a few hours prior. Now what? This novella is now in the public domain, so should I decide to write a complete tale from the outline, there were no worries there. Dickens' original ran to approximately 29,000 words - a good length for this kind of moralistic story, and an interesting target should I decide to proceed. Market for this? It's a little too short (less than a third of my normal working length) for publishing alone, yet I couldn't see myself "padding-out" the wordcount by writing other short stories to reach a suitable size for publication. Briefly I did toy with the idea of also updating the two Christmas novellas Dickens publish in later years as well, these being "The Chimes" and "The Cricket on the Hearth", but inspiration did not lay in that direction. The next step was thinking about other treatments such as a screenplay or traditional theatre play. Although I have given advice to other writers in said fields, I have never written either myself. So for now, the outline fills a few more folios of the "ideas" notebook as a potential future project. What will become of this I honestly don't know as of this moment. I'll update this piece, if and when, any developments occur.
It's a good job it wasn't Halloween!