Unlike many of my writer friends, I do not carry around jillions of story ideas in my head, each one begging to be written. I have to ponder and dream and wonder and borrow and—okay—even steal ideas from books, TV shows, movies, songs. Note that I said ideas. I’m not into absconding with line-by-line dialogue, twist-by-twist plotlines, memorable character tics or word-for-word lyrics. After all, I have some decency, and pride, even when desperate for new material!
But I do take inspiration from the creative work of others. Many stories are “just” different takes on the same (old) idea. Like Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story. Written centuries apart, they’re both about a boy and girl who fall in love despite their feuding families.
As a singer, I know the impact of taking an existing song, changing the tempo or adding distinctive licks to make it sound completely new. By now, I think almost everybody knows that Whitney Houston’s record-smashing version of the song, I Will Always Love You, from The Bodyguard was originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton. In the video below, you can hear John Doe singing the country version in the background of the movie during the dance scene between Houston’s and Kevin Costner’s characters. (If time is limited, skip ahead to 4:30 in the embedded video.) Wow, what a difference a different take makes!
And that’s why I’m not too worried about the ideas not tumbling around in my brain. Because I know they’re tumbling around in someone else’s—awaiting my fresh spin.
What about you? Does your brain overflow with new ideas all the time? Or do you get inspiration from others? Or both?
PM Kavanaugh writes character-driven thrillers spiked with romance. Her debut novel, DIE RUN HIDE, a Daphne finalist, has just been contracted by Crimson Romance. She blogs regularly for MVRWA and can be found at pmkavanaugh.com, on Facebook and Twitter.