To listen to published authors who actually have fans to ask them questions, one of the most popular questions asked is, “Where do you come up with your ideas?”
Most of mine come from things that happen in every-day life that somehow collide with other things running around in my head and stick together as an idea that has potential. Then I usually file it away in my “idea holder”, because they are seldom big enough at that point to actually spark a story. There they will often sit until a new idea gets thrown into the mix and I realize it’s not a separate idea, but belongs with one or more other ideas already in storage. Eventually enough ideas stick together to form a critical mass.
So this morning was a bit of an oddity–I awoke, and my first conscious thought was a story idea: an AI fights a war. I don’t remember what I was dreaming right before that, but I remember enough to know it had nothing to do with this idea. I have no idea where it came from.
Now, unlike many of my ideas, this one is a complete idea. It’s enough to start writing a story from. But I won’t yet, because there are story ideas, and then there are good story ideas. I need to develop the idea further. I think it has the potential to become a very good story, but only if I can figure out the right approach.
Most every idea I’ve ever had can be traced to something normal and logical. It’s very rare that a full-fledged, fully-formed idea comes to me out of nowhere like this. Perhaps this is more typical for other writers. If so I can see why some authors get rather superstitious about inspiration, or refer to it as their Muse. I can see why it would also drive them nuts, because it’s not a process you can force. It happen to me so rarely I can’t even remember another time. I’d hate to have to rely on this method for ideas.
The human mind is an amazing thing–and sometimes a little frightening.