Missed Opportunities & New Opportunities

As a writer I’m always on the look out for new ideas. An idea can come from anywhere. I’m not using hyperbole either. You can form a story from overheard conversations, snippets from scenes in films, even a smudge on a blackboard.

The film Sleepy Hollow is about a Headless Horseman. However in the short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, on which the film is based the Headless Horseman is barely a foot note. That was taken by Tim Burton and made, effectively, into a new story.

It’s well know that authors often get asked the question: ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ Its a strange question as a half remembered song could be the inspiration for something. When I start a story I don’t know where its going so a small start is all that’s required.

We’ve all seen films where we can tell the ending within the first five minutes. When I was 15 I saw Maid in Manhattan – I feel the need to add that I went with two female friends… anyway you could tell what was going to happen very early on. As these things go the film wasn’t bad but a predictable film is not a lot of fun.

However sometimes a film can be a surprise. Sometimes we can be completely wrong. For me one such film is Chocholat. Its been a long time since I’ve seen it but in the beginning the woman who runs the chocolate shop has a spinning piece of wood. I thought this was going to be a major part of the story. It turned out to be a momentary curiosity and was never mentioned again. However it gave me an idea for a short story – ‘Revelations

It is exciting to gain ideas this way. The human mind works in strange ways. We watch a film or read a book and something about what we’re experiencing mingles with other ideas and a new story is formed. This story will be something completely new. No one else will be able to see any connection to the original stimulus.

Sometimes although we may enjoy something it can feel like a opportunity has been missed – that an idea wasn’t explored quite as fully as perhaps it could have been.

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