Things we generally think are good until we follow through and realize that tipping cows is in fact far more frightening than it sounds. In a way, it’s almost like watching skyscrapers fall.
But never mind that.
Turns out ideas are at the beginning of it all.
Well, they are the mental seeds that almost always grow awry when cultivated. They are the, “ah yes, that should work out nicely,” followed by the “what in the big green thing we call home have I done” several minutes later. And sometimes, though not always, a stampede of absolutely furious cows.
Worry not though, because despite the mountains of self ridicule in my previous posts, I am in truth faster than those hamburgers-in-waiting.
…And if you’ve read enough of me, you know at this point I’ve never actually tipped a cow. I haven't got half the balls.
But enough of those deceivingly underestimated animals. We’re here to talk about ideas, and more specifically the best kind of ideas. The one’s that generally don't involve cows.
To lay the groundwork, I thought we’d just flush out a few of the other at first great ideas, that usually turn sour real fast.
1 - Sequels
2 - Cows, particularly in their tipping form
3 - And absolutely anything that starts with “hold my beer pal, and watch this.”
Yep, think we about covered it.
So before getting to the literary ideas, which can be a whole new kind of hilarious, what do good ideas really look like? Specifically their characteristics.
Well, undoubtedly, it’s going to look different to everyone. That should be obvious. Some people think Sunday’s are for light reading and french-pressed coffee, and others that their for being eaten alive by an anaconda (that’s a real thing, people).
Those are not necessarily the kind of ideas I have in mind, but you see my point.
If it’s hard for you to see the difference there, you need to stop reading now because the rest of this post will not make sense to you. Go do something indoors and away from windows please.
But that aside, we’ve established then that ideas are just as opinionated as anything else. So what distinguishes someone’s idea then as good? Is it even possible since people can be of such different minds?
Well let me offer my two cents (for investment purposes only of course) and you judge for yourself.
Since people are different, and good ideas can’t always share specific details, there has to be some other form of common ground, right? And I mean besides the coffee-drinkers agreeing to watch the man get eaten alive by a snake just because they find it cool.
No, it’s my belief that the main and most common characteristic of a good idea is how long it stays with you. The length of time it rattles around your brain and tries to get you to do something about it.
For those of you potential snake foodies that kept reading after I said stop, I’ll visualize it for you.
Say your cooking pasta, and you need to pour the noodles through the mesh thingie so they stay and the water goes (you’ll notice I am a very technical chef). Well, do that with the ideas in your head. Try to remember all of the thoughts that came to you in the past few weeks, and look down at what stayed. What is caught in the mesh, that you’ve been thinking about for ages, and what fell through after a few loose thoughts?
Those ideas that stayed, that you couldn't shake, are the solid ones. They are the ones you or your subconscious are hanging onto for something.
Remember though, those are your good ideas. Still not necessarily good ideas.
If for some reason, yours involves tipping cows, you’ll see now that your good ideas are still terrible in the grand scheme of things. Because when I said above that I could probably outrun a whole horde of them, that was just my pride speaking, a hundred miles from the nearest cow.
*Takes a sip of something, shutters a little, and looks out the window forlorn for a few minutes*
This is all well and good your thinking, but how the hell does it have anything to do with creative writing?
Ah yes, now we’re getting somewhere.
The very same theory can be applied to those stories that come to us writer folk. If you’ve read the 10 reasons writers are crazy post I wrote a while back, you’ll remember how I talk about the fact stories are better at sneaking up on writers than liver failure is.
*Collective gasps of outrage and shameful victorian-era head shakes of shame in my direction*
I jest, I jest, calm down.
What I said, and am referring to now, is that stories always come to writers like stalkers do to celebrities. Which is to say everywhere and all too often frantically. The shower, the bus, dinner parties, lunch parties, snake eating human parties, cow tipping parties, I don't know, whatever it is that kids do these days, etc.
But using the same theory as above, the best ones stick with us. Those hollow, admittedly horrible ideas for a story, are usually dismissed pretty quickly. We spare them a second before realizing that no one wants to read about a professional cow tipper and his half snake-eaten sidekick.
But those that stay, those that we can’t ignore, are the best kind of story ideas. They are the ones we know that hold some worth.
And there you have it, the best kind of literary idea there is. One with potential.
So I suppose we made it full circle, hmm?
We covered tipping cows, snakes eating people, and all the way back again to whatever it was I was trying to prove. I took a bit of a break there.
Something about remembering something else, wasn't it?
Ah, doesn't matter.
But tell me, what do you guys think about a story of cow tipping?