Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Film Writes: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

If you've been a writer for longer than about five seconds, someone has probably asked you the question that many writers dread.

"Where do you get your ideas?"

Short of saying that all your plots are watered-down or dressed-up versions of tales from the more outlandish members of your family tree, you may or may not have a fantastic comeback.

Heck, sometimes you probably don't even know where your ideas come from. The good ideas (hard to come by, I know) seem to just appear magically out of nothing, or out of primordial ooze, or heartbroken angst, or whatever. The bad ideas are ... well, everywhere.

If you've ever stared at a blank page and wondered what to write next, why not take this idea for a spin?

Revamp a Fairy Tale

Sure, why not?

The Disney movie Frozen did it with flying colors. The story of Elsa and Anna, princesses of Arendelle, is based on the fairy tale "The Snow Queen" by Hans Christian Andersen.

Have you ever read "The Snow Queen"?

Check it out online here.

Don't misunderstand me. It's a nice fairy tale.

But when Disney got done with it, the movie (which, many readers will agree, is a definite winner) almost didn't resemble the original tale at all.

And the movie, with its incredible success, is probably the better for it.


Don't look at me like you're about to accuse me of plagiarism. There are only three, or six, or seven, or twenty, or thirty-six plots in the world, and there are millions of books. There's been some recycling going on for a while.

And if you pick an obscure fairy tale, and just use the tale as a jumping-off point, and change things dramatically enough ... 

It could work.


Check out some fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen (see this page) or the Grimm brothers (see this page). Is there one that sparks your inspiration? How can you morph that basic tale into something novel-worthy?

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