Monday, 18 February 2008

This Writing Life...: Where Do You Get Your Ideas...

That's a question a lot of writers get.

Where do you get your ideas?

Well, mine seem to pop up everywhere, and sometimes in the strangest places.

One of my favourite places where I find ideas is the remainder bin at bookstores.

No I'm not talking about plagiarism. Go wash your brain out with soap for even thinking about it.

I'm a rabid reader. Fiction, non-fiction I consume it all voraciously. I especially like reading history. Especially books about relatively obscure corners of history that usually end up in the remainder bin or at your local library's clearance sale.

One such book I found was called The Mummy Congress by Heather Pringle. At face value it seems to be a fairly straightforward book about a conference of scientists who meet periodically to talk about mummies of all shapes, sizes, and varieties.

Reading about how the ancient and more modern cultures viewed and treated the dead gave me ideas for two very different short stories, one a straight horror tale of revenge and death, and another one a more lighthearted and humorous fantasy adventure. Now both are works in progress, but they're shaping up pretty well.

Which is why I'm so adamant that before anyone can think they can write, they have to read, a lot.

And that's why I just can't walk past a remainder bin without taking a look, because you never know what you'll find, or what it could lead to.


  1. snap_pop_no_crackle18/2/08 9:40 pm

    Another trick to spin off sparks is to find a store with a large periodical section. Buy a magazine dealing with some topic totally foreign to you.
    For instance, taxidermists and tug-boat captains have their own sets of jargon and different ways of looking at the world.

  2. A reminder bin? Never heard of that before. Like a discount/used bin at a library or bookstore?

  3. A reminder bin? Never heard of that before. Like a discount/used bin at a library or bookstore?

    It's the "industry" name for discount bins. They're new books that can't be sold for full price, so they are "remainders" of the print run.

    You learn something new every day.