Wednesday, October 19, 2011

All Out of Questions?

Okay, as of now, this is the LAST of the questions in our "Ask Us Anything" series, where Zyra and I answer questions from our awesome readers. Remember, we continue to answer them as long as you continue to ask them.

Today, our question is from Amara Z who asked: How do you get your ideas? Do have anything you do if you want to get the creativity flowing? Do you ever look at an idea or a scene and think it sounds too much like what someone else wrote?

And here are our answers:

We'll start with Zyra: How do you get your ideas?  My ideas usually come out of nowhere and almost never when I think I actually want to write a story. Sometimes I'll want to be writing a story but nothing is coming to me. It often just pops into my head when I don't expect it. Usually the stories stem from either a set-up or I'll visualize just one scene I want to write and build a story around it. I guess it doesn't usually happen the same way. I don't tend to come up with any "epic" story lines though.

Do have anything you do if you want to get the creativity flowing?   I don't necessarily do anything specific to get the creativity flowing. Sometimes I'm inexplicably inspired to write and I just don't want to stop. If I really want to get in Star Wars writing mode sometimes I'll listen to the soundtracks while I write. Nothing really special.

Do you ever look at an idea or a scene and think it sounds too much like what someone else wrote?  Oh, this is definitely a tough thing that probably all of us run into, I think. It's probably inevitable with hundreds of fanfics being written about these characters over the span of 30+ years. It becomes incredibly difficult to come up with something different that nobody has thought of before. And I think it can be a bad idea to go out of your way to be too unique because then you may just get so far out there that people aren't going to be interested or the situation is just too strange of the characterizations are off. Yes, I've definitely written stuff and then thought I'd seen it before. Or I've even written something I thought was unique and then later saw a story that had been around for a while that did some of the same stuff.

I'll say obviously don't plagiarize, but don't get too hung up on trying not to write something that has been done before. I think that we can all offer our own unique perspectives on things and even if a situation has been done before there is always room for your own interpretation of it. I'll say that when I started writing "After the Rescue" I was reluctant to put it out there since I know I've read close to a dozen versions of what happened after Han was rescued in that same situation. But I decided to write it anyway and it might be my favorite thing I've written. So yes, it might make me hesitate if it has been done before, but if I'm inspired to write it, I'll usually go ahead and do it anyway.

And now for Push: How do you get your ideas? In the beginning, mostly pieces of dialogue and scenes would come to me and I would write them and fit them together.  I guess you can see that from 'Shifting Impressions', which was just a series of conversations/scenes that I pieced together that don't really tell a story other than the progression of Han and Leia's relationship. 

For things that are 'missing moments', where knowledge of the movies would fill in gaps for the readers, those ideas come mostly as scenes or dialogue.  If it's more of a stand-alone story, it'll come to me as an idea and then I'll try to get scenes and dialogue to come to me that feed into that idea.  Like "What if this happened?" and then visualize scenes where Han/Leia would react in that situation/story. 

Do have anything you do if you want to get the creativity flowing? Good Question!  Sometimes this is frustrating!  First, I've learned never to force it and I've learned to pounce on it when it comes to you.  I've woken up in the middle of the night and recorded a scene or typed it up just so I wouldn't lose it.  But when things aren't coming to me, I like to read or watch a movie.  Sometimes it'll be a SW book or the SW movies, but sometimes it'll just be something I consider similar and feel might give me inspiration or ideas. 

I also find just quiet time to myself is great to get those ideas to bubble to the surface.  I'm a mom with a full-time job so quiet time is a treasure.  My main access to that type of uninterrupted peacefulness is in the car.  I'll turn off the radio and just enjoy the silence.  I've gotten plenty of ideas while driving! 

Do you ever look at an idea or a scene and think it sounds too much like what someone else wrote? Definitely this has happened to me.  After reading so many stories and then trying to write the same characters in the same time frame, it just seems a recipe for repetition.  I certainly would NEVER intentionally plagiarize and would encourage anyone else NOT to.  I'll go out of my way to make sure that I'm not repeating something already done, but not to the point where I give up writing because I feel that it's all been done before. 

There was this one exchange of lines between Han & Leia that I wrote and I asked Zyra if she had seen it before because I just felt like I had read something similar.  Zyra said she hadn't and I went back and reread a bunch of my fav fics (which isn't a bad thing to do sometimes) and couldn't find it.  I almost considered pulling it, but I really liked it and I couldn't really be certain if I had 'gleaned' it from someone else.   In the end, I kept it in there and I haven't heard anyone gunning to sue me.

As Zyra said, I'll write something and think that I've invented the wheel and then find it somewhere else similarly done in a fanfic that is over a decade old.  Did I steal it?  No, I had never read it before and I did express it differently, it's just the nature of the beast.  I'll say just be cognizant of it but don't let it stymie your creative process.

That's it.  And I mean literally, THAT'S IT.  We have no more get on over to the Ask Us Anything post and ask if you got 'em!


  1. Either everyone knows as much as they care to know about us (as in: we're not as interesting as they may have thought before - or just as uninteresting as they expected) or we've really answered every question.

  2. I wonder if we could turn this around and WE could ask questions and see if anyone answers them?

  3. not sure if we'd answer, but it would definitely get people talking :-)

  4. Lol, julz.

    Sounds like an interesting idea, Push. Look what happened on the sexy time topic. =)