Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hit Me With Your Worst Shot

So I went to work the other week. Yeah, it's not that fun. But I was looking at this barrage of forms in front of the teacher mailboxes and one of them caught my eye.

And bam! Instant idea. And this was a form that teachers could pass out to their students to fill out. It just gave me an idea for a setting, nothing big.

The day before that, I was loading the dishwasher, something I do about fifty billion times a week. And I had this thought go through my head, and words almost came out of my mouth. I sucked them back in, because I could hear this other mom in my head saying them to her teenage son.

An idea was born.

Then I went to a writing conference. There was a panel on ideas, and how usually the best ideas are those that combine several ideas into one.

So then I felt less stellar about my singular ideas. One thing someone said though, caught in my ears. I think it was Brandon Sanderson, because let's face it, every word the man says is like IDK, gospel law or something. Srsly. The man is a genius and I could listen to him talk for hours.

Anyway, I digress. He said that a common misconception is that the people on the panel (published authors) have these earth-shattering ideas. He said that's not true (which made hope flare in my chest), but that they're taking the really bad ideas and combining them and spinning them and working with them until they're something amazing.

He said he works with the mundane ideas that the rest of us discard.

Can you believe that???

Yeah, I'm not sure I do either.

But it inspired this blog post. And now you've got an assignment. Tell me your absolute worst ideas. The ones you scoff at and wish you'd never had. I want to see if they're as bad as mine.

**They did this during the panel and someone's bad idea was "long hair that's been cut off."

So dude, I think I've got that one beat. Maybe.

Anything is acceptable today! What's your WORST idea??

72 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Eek! I can't think of any. They were so bad, I've erased them from my mind. Selective amnesia. :)

Scott said...

First, now that the Pat Benatar song is going through my head . . . I'll get you for that my pretty, and your little dog too!!

How about thinking you could write a sequel to The Lord of the Rings??? Uh, huh, yeah, that was me in my glory days!!

"Hit me with you best shot . . . fire away!!!" - Pat Benatar

Aaron Polson said...

Um, that's a bigger challenge than picking my best. (I have a best?)

Have you seen the movie Gamer? Yeah...I thought that was an original idea once. *sigh*

Jonathon Arntson said...

Elana!!! I don't have any bad ideas.

That's because I am still suffering from SNIS and haven't properly recognized the filth that is congesting my thumb drives...

I did once get an idea to write about this guy that has a really boring life, but decided to wait on an auto for at least two decades.

Christina Lee said...

A girl superhero one that I stopped writing after chapter five... just wasn't feeling it and kinda didn't know what the hell I was talking about. There's one worse than that but I'm too embarassed to say it...

Jessica said...

I don't remember my worst ideas. LOL Actually, now that I think of it, I think one time I thought of a title for a story called Confessions of some kind of Mom. See, I can't even remember what kind. LOL But I'm pretty sure that story would've bombed. LOL

Great info here! Pretty soon I'm going to be starting a new book and I'll want to remember this for my stuff. Thanks!

ChristaCarol said...

Hm, this is actually really hard. I do think we probably selectively FORGET. :P Or maybe not selectively, purposefully. All very interesting, though. *still hammering brain to think of bad idea once thought of*

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Darn I can't think of any either or maybe I tend to think all my ideas are good. Of course they are not but hey I can pretend.

Tess said...

what? you mean all my ideas aren't brilliant?

drat.

okay, I'll play along...

one time I had a dream about a nun and a teenage boy and an icecream parlor.

I woke up and thought it 'brilliant' (you know, in that just woke up haze of mind) but within five minutes realized it was complete crap.

Slamdunk said...

Yes, I try to block those moronic ideas out forever. One that I bounced quickly was a hiker walking on a trail and finding a murder victim--now, that has been done 1,000 times at least.

Bethany Wiggins said...

My problem isn't ideas. It is having too many!

Tiffany Neal said...

My bad ideas are the ones that come so vividly in my dream that include WAY too many things happening, some of which I can't even truly remember by the time I'm up and walking around.

They seem so fascinating, until I try to write it. Then they just seem, NO, are CRAZY! And usually make absolutely no sense. Not even to me...

sarahwedgbrow said...

I tried writing a story about suburban life. My neighbour always mows his lawn, like every tuesday, and I look at my grass sort of overgrown. I thought, you know we live a sort of peaceful life here and my grass isn't mowed, but the neighbour across the street is always arguing with his wife--then goes out to mow. gets all his aggression out by attacking the lawn. I liked the irony of perfect lawn=dysfunctional relationship. However, every time I try to write it, it bores the hell out of me. Perhaps it should be a poem instead.

Faith said...

All I have to say is... agreed.

Brandon Sanderson = GENIUS

I'm so jealous you were able to spend even a moment in his presence... *faint*

S'cuse me whilst I go give my copy of Elantris a hug. Again.

Kat Harris said...

I once thought about writing a story about a nun that went insane. Thankfully, the thought passed.

It's funny when you think that someone's bad idea could be another person's triumph. For example, I was flipping through channels the other day and found -- on the SyFy program guide -- a story about people getting stranded on an island with dinosaurs and a German U-boat crew.

To me, that has trainwreck written all over it, but someone had to believe in the idea enough to financially back the movie. Right? I mean, right? :-)

Great post today!

Marybeth Poppins said...

"Learning the art of Complaining while eating Cheese."

It's just a title, not sure what the story would be...

But I hereby TM this title!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Hmmm. This is a REALLY hard question. I once had a dream about a middle school boy who smelled like peanut butter ALL THE TIME, so no one wanted to be around him. Sooo... top that, my little pretty! Mwa-ha-ha. :-)

Stephanie Thornton said...

I was just thinking the other day how my books are tons of tiny, mundane ideas all joined together to make one giant plot.

As for bad ideas? I've had many, but I think they've all been forgotten. At least I hope so!

And now I have that Pat Benetar song running through my head. I love 80's music!

Iapetus999 said...

I had this idea about this guy who gets fired from his job, and because he's so discontent with the industry he's in, he decides to chuck it all and instead try to become a published author, even though he's never published anything before and probably isn't that great of a writer.
That was a really stupid idea.
And the funny thing is that he's still going at it almost a year later, and still hasn't published a thing.
And if that wasn't bad enough, the CAPTCHA word he's looking at RIGHT NOW is "lamers"

Yat-Yee said...

A girl baby discovered by a stream and raised by an old couple turns out to the the savior of this oppressed people. Thought that was original...

Jen said...

Most of my bad ideas come from a crazy dream where I wake up in the night thinking, wow that would make a great book/movie! And I write it down. In the morning I look at it and its completely incoherent and stupid. My husband and I have a good laugh and then I throw it away.

MG Higgins said...

I have so few ideas that I have to use every single one I come up with. Really. (No, not really.)

Kristi said...

"how to eat pizza guilt free"

That's a book I'd love to write and publish although not sure it's quite possible. :-)

Shelley Sly said...

Oh geez, I am just the queen of terrible ideas. And like others here, a lot of mine come from dreams.

One of my worst was about two teens who discover a secret passage in their bathroom. It's like Narnia... in the bathroom. (That would be my tagline, I guess.)

Tere Kirkland said...

Weirdly enough, I had a really vivid Nyquil dream the other night that was a murder mystery set during Mardi Gras. As soon as I woke up I was like, whoa, this could be a good idea for a novel.

But the details are all wrong and I know I can't make it work--it was just my brain recuperating from Mardi Gras and thinking about the mystery I recently wrote. Crazy.

Abby Stevens said...

When I was in screenwriting in college I tried to update GONE WITH THE WIND to take place during the Iraq War.

Not so easy.

Pretty bad.

http://www.thetabbycatt.blogspot.com

Chantal said...

I know this sounds dumb, but that's what we're talking about today, right? Well, anyway--I had this idea for a wizard that goes aroudn the world gathering poetrty from dragons for a book. Yeah, go ahead, laugh at me. I'm laughing, too.

Olivia Carter said...

Oh gosh, I also have too many ideas.

But I did start a werewolf book. For NO REASON, I don't even like werewolves, not remotely interested in them, and there's a million of them out there. I got far into it & thought, "wait, I have no plot other than the fact that this girl is a werewolf".

And let's be honest nothing screams bad idea like a STORY WITH NO PLOT!

Carolyn V. said...

Wow, I didn't hear Brandon say that. So cool!

I have so many worst ideas. So many. =)

Jenn Johansson said...

I had this fabulous idea about taking Greek mythology and writing a YA urban fantasy involving the gods of Mt. Olympus.........

*sigh*
Thanks for nothing Percy Jackson.

Liza said...

All these people with ideas...and at the moment, I can't think of a one. Ugh.

roxy said...

Does a space-age setting of a King Lear rewrite count? Thanks for this great post! (P.S. I met you at LTUE, and talked with you about speaking at the League of Utah Writer's Spring workshop. Could you email me, Elana, so I can give you the specifics ? (roxyhaynie@mac.com)

Julie Dao said...

I LOVE when that happens!! Getting random ideas at random times. I've definitely been driving down the highway before and literally smacked in the face with a story idea. How about ... a Romeo and Juliet-based story with a Twilight twist - Juliet is the daughter of a famous goblin hunter and Romeo is king of the goblins?

Nicole Ducleroir said...

Ugh.

A guy is hit by lightning and becomes a human magnet.

Yes, bad. The worst part is...I wrote a short story about it! ROFL -- The finished project stinks as bad as the premise!

Kayeleen said...

Yesterday, I was helping my husband with the kids and he said, "Haven't you learned how to do .... by now?" in relation to something I had just done. (I don't remember, but probably cutting the food into the right sized bits.) I thought, "I should write a book called 'Academy for Moms.' Every body wants to know about how to be a great mom, right?" I don't know where I would go with it though.

Nisa said...

"There are no bad ideas when you're brainstorming" - haha! Courtesy of Disney channel's Imagination Movers.

I don't know about this question. Maybe my snow storm on the beach idea wasn't the best, but I still like it. Yes, I like bad ideas. They are charming in their own special way. :)

Rebecca Knight said...

HAHAHAHA! I love this post :D.

I've had this same process happen with titles. I had two bad titles: EMPTY LAND and HOLLOW CITY and combined them to make the okay title HOLLOW LAND.

My worst idea was naming something DARK SALVATION :(. Seriously.

lotusgirl said...

I thought all my ideas were brilliant. *reeling from the shock*

How about a sick person in bed detailing minutely all their ailments. Oi.

Feywriter said...

One of my WIPs finally clicked when I combined three formerly separate ideas.

As for worst idea... one based off a dream. A talent show where guys have a better chance if they wear a sun dress and sing falsetto... There is lots of other crazy stuff in my story synopsis for that one, but I don't know that it redeems the bad idea. lol.

Krispy said...

The bad ideas that come to mind that I haven't purged from my memory all have to do with crazy fanfic ideas my friends and I used to develop and sometimes write. They were pretty ridic AND hilarious. I guess we never took ourselves seriously and were aiming for the Awesomely Bad? One can only hope.

A bad idea we came up with that I'm totally not ashamed of? Attempting to write the sequel to the Grapes of Wrath. It was appropriately dubbed Peaches of Anger. We even have a title for the 3rd book to that trilogy. I'm sure Steinbeck is shuddering at the thought somewhere in the Great Beyond. :P

Roni @ FictionGroupie said...

Thanks for this. I'm currently trying to combine two of my so-so ideas into one. This gives me some hope that it's the right thing to do. :)

Susan R. Mills said...

All my ideas are brilliant, so I can't really answer this. :) No, I'm only kidding. Really, it's the other way around. Most of my ideas are terrible, so it's really hard for me to pick the worst.

A. Grey said...

This is the best post I've read in a long time. I laughd so hard that all my coworkers came over and wanted to know what was going on. They don't write so they just stared at the screen with their eyebrows raised.

My bad idea? I've had dozens of horrid ones...

Off the top of my head:

Girl falls down a well and ends up in another world

Thirty-something year old virgin gets 'chosen' by a unicorn to do soemthing world-saving.

paulgreci said...

Gosh, everyone's bad ideas sound like my good ones

Jennie Englund said...

Something along the lines of "Sixteen Candles" meets "Transformers"?

Solvang Sherrie said...

Share a bad idea? Yikes. They've all been deleted from my brain. I only work with the ones that have at least a glimmer of hope!

Bish Denham said...

I like to play around at a random story generator site. Sometimes the combos are hysterical. Like: The damp towel that went to the moon.

Kimberly Franklin said...

I'm writing my bad idea right now... not so bad after all. Lol.

T. Anne said...

I remember having what I thought was a lousy idea for a book and I ended up using it as a backstory for my MC and you know what? That's my favorite manuscript to date. It really is a good idea to recycle, reuse and write it in. ;)

Abby Annis said...

I can't think of any of my own. They're usually discarded before I get very far. My brain's way too crowded with useless information. But my youngest told me the other day that a story about a caveman from space who solves crimes would be really cool. Does that count? :)

Tamika: said...

This happens to me so much. In the beginning they felt like fake VC Andrews storylines, but far worse. I have a thing for family saga.

Caledonia Lass said...

*Phew* I'm not the only one who thought of writing a sequel to Lord of the Rings. XD

Diana Paz said...

Ha ha, we both have ideas on the brain! I'm with the Pat Benetar fans, btw.

My worst idea... so many to choose from... OH! I once wanted to write a book where the guy-mc was going to speak in OLD ENGLISH for the entire novel!! Wow, that would have been prime. Oh man Elana, I'm going down a trip through memory lane now, I've had some horrible ideas!! Thanks for the giggle! And also, thanks for the great post, I loooove hearing about conferences!

Jemi Fraser said...

I've deleted a lot of my bad ones from my brain - but remnants remain ... Scottish highlnads, 1000 years ago, women's lib & ... well I really don't want to say the rest :)

Southpaw said...

I simply don’t believe in them. I chose to believe the are good ideas on holiday when they get back refreshed they’ll be are refreshed and good.

Sara McClung ♥ said...

OMG. I have to come back when I've given this some serious thought. Aka when I've waded through my POUNDS of bad ideas to find the best bad one to share, lol.

Elana Johnson said...

Oh my heck! I can't stop laughing. We've got peanut butter and lawn mowing and Iapetus999 yours is making me laugh and laugh and laugh!

And yeah, Percy Jackson made me so mad that I didn't think of that first.

No-guilt pizza, and Nyquil-induced dreams. You guys are awesome!

Let's not forget "Narnia in the bathroom." That is PRICELESS! I can't stop laughing! (And this is good laughing, not bad laughing.)

Peaches of Laughter! Ha! And Dark Salvation. Sounds really amazing, Rebecca!

Virgins and unicorns, yes! I think that combo has "DEAL" written all over it. Ha ha!

What a great day to read through all these comments! You guys are awesome. And don't worry, Paul, their bad ideas are my good ones too. ;-)

Karen Lange said...

Bad ideas, let's see. Okay so nothing's coming to me, but this is not to say I've never had them. Just can't think of any really crummy ones right now. Maybe it's because I've got such a big to-do list and a messy desk that I don't have time to sort out the good from the bad? Eeek. I need a vacation. And a secretary. Oh wait, they both require money. So maybe those are my bad ideas?

L.T. Elliot said...

My worst idea? When I was younger I wrote a story about a boy finding an abandoned dog. It was really, really sappy. I "abandoned" that sucker quick.

Robert Guthrie said...

I took the loooooongest shower thinking about all my bad, completely terrible writing ideas. But, as my water bill kept going crazy, I kept deciding not to talk about that one or that one b/c... well, b/c, someday if I'm in the right place or the write mood it might morph into the good idea that I originally thought it was... I know they're terrible ideas, but I can't throw them away.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I haven't had a terrible "concept" for one of my stories yet but I have written some crappy scenes that got sent to the chopping block.
Make sure you jot down those ideas so you don't forge them. Good or bad. :)

Susan Fields said...

I'm having a hard time remembering it, but it had something to do with a new kid in the neighborhood that was actually an alien, and also something about strawberries - I think he needed strawberries to survive on Earth or something like that. Yes, this was a very long time ago.

Christine Fonseca said...

Worst idea...really....Hmmm....I am sure I have had ones during our endless chat sessions...but yeah, can't think of any now....

But it does make me think of the whole premise for Jerry Seinfeld...a whole show (in this case book) about NOTHING.

Jonathon Arntson said...

I'm with Robert. My bad ideas are like my filthy, ratty teddy bears that I could never part with, but I don't share with anyone.

My word verification is repto...totally the next superhero series.

Repto Kiddo vs The Snakeman

Lisa and Laura said...

I was sitting in the car with my daughter waiting for my husband to run into the grocery store and I had an idea involving a shopping cart and bananas. I'm not even kidding. Lisa would not approve.

Lisa Nowak said...

When I was thirteen I started writing a book about a girl and her telepathic cat who get abducted by aliens.

Robyn Campbell said...

Uh, I love Pat Benatar. But now that song WILL NOT LEAVE my mind. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??=)

I have had some pretty EMBARRASSING ideas. They are that bad. I wanted to write for boys. Since I have SIX of them I think I will have a nice voice for that. But I should not use my idea of the poor boys turning into pieces of candy and experiencing what life is like for candy. You know, the trying to run because someone is going to eat you thing. Shhh, don't tell anyone. That was NOT my finest moment.

Bethanne said...

*long hair that's been cut off* Are you kidding me? That's one of the greatest stories out there! seduction, power, deceit.

I don't believe there are no bad ideas... just unexplored interpretations. ;-)

Bethanne said...

bad ideas. Not no bad ideas... crap. :D Sorry. LOL

Jaime Theler said...

How about a chronic nose-picker who's also class president?

That's bad on several levels. :)

Jenn Wilks said...

I told my husband once that I was going to write a book called "How to be Completely Disorganized and Out of Control," but he couldn't catch the vision of it. LOL!! StoryFAIL!

Mrs4444 said...

Sorry this is a little bit off-topic in terms of your question, but I often marvel at how the posts I think are lame end up really resonating with readers of my blog. I love when that happens :)

Nice to "meet" you. Visiting from KLo's place.

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