I read a lot. When I can, I read blogs by editors, authors, and agents. I read articles by editors, authors, and agents. I read books by and about editors, authors, and agents. I listen to every story I can about editors, authors, and agents. And one common theme (among authors) is that they're often asked "Where do you get your ideas?"
Authors agonize over this question. Some say "None of your business" and hope the questioner will leave it at that. Others mumble about inspiration, flow of the universe, muses, interesting questions, and 'it just happens'.
I am prepared to answer this question. (No one has asked me this question yet, because aside from this blog I am unpublished, unready to be published, and just a teenager so people avoid asking me my opinion anyway. Also, people avoid asking me questions about writing. It's a preservation instinct.)
This morning in seminary I was doodling. I am a compulsive doodler. Today my theme was wings. I like wings. The first two angels turned out okay, but the third set of wings went wrong. The right one was fine but the left one didn't match up. It was scrawny and lopsided and doomed the angel who was not yet drawn to fall from the skies on his first flight. I scribbled out the lopsided wing. Then I looked at the good wing (and it was a good wing) and thought, Hmm.
What if there was a race of people with wings? What if one of them only had one wing? What if it wasn't that he was born with only one, but that he had two and lost one? How would you go about losing your wing? In battle? Are you a warrior, little undrawn angel? Or a criminal? Was getting your wing cut off some kind of drastic punishment? And they left the other wing so you would always remember that you couldn't fly? What did you do? Are you really a bad guy, or were you falsely accused? Or did you do what they thought you did, whatever it was, but with a motive/circumstances that actually made it the right thing to do? Or were you duped, tricked into doing it by someone you thought was your friend? Or did you do it for the wrong reasons, and now you're sorry? I bet you're a grouchy person. I would be grouchy if I couldn't fly anymore and only had one wing and people threw stones at me for being some kind of semi-winged freak and my family never came to visit me. I bet it's hard to make friends when you only have one wing. If you had two wings, well, that would be different; setting aside the fact that you would still be flying around with your friends, people are a lot more friendly towards people who are different but useful. Having one wing makes you different and useless at the same time. No offense. I wonder if you're out for revenge. Or on a quest, quests are always a good use of time when you're a crippled exile. Hmmmmmm....
And that's where I get my ideas. I extrapolate wildly from things no one else would think twice about. A messed up doodle to a semi-fledged (sorry) character idea?
And the seminary lesson wasn't bad either.