Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I thought of it first!

Before I start, I just wanted to say thanks to those of you who commented on my last post. I have some ideas now about how to go about finding readers and becoming part of the critiquing world. I'll let you know how it goes :)

Yesterday I was searching through some old writing files for details of a Writers Bureau course I started years ago. (I had thoughts about going back to it, but that's a story for another day). I'm talking about honest-to-goodness paper files here, from before I owned a computer. I was somewhat amused to come across my 'ideas' book. I've had this book since I was in my early teens. Anything that I thought might have the remotest potential has long since been transferred to my computer but I can't bear to throw the book away.

I've copied the following outline exactly as it was written in my book, including punctuation. Bear in mind I was about fifteen years old at the time!

A teenage girl marries. Soon realises it is a disaster. Husband an alcoholic, beats her and often rapes her. Eventually at 18, she gets pregnant. Final straw when he pushes her down the stairs in a drunken fit, causing her to miscarry – a fact she doesn't discover until later – she butchers him up with a carving knife, leaves him for dead, takes the car and starts a new life. 10 years later she's remarried and has twins. A man starts following her. It is her husband who wasn't dead after all – he' s tracked her down and he wants revenge for the stabbing which has left him in a terrible way. Her life is in danger when he kidnaps her daughter in an attempt to lure her to her death – then they fall for each other all over again.

I'll be honest here. I seriously considered omitting that last line from this post, I was so embarrassed by it.

then they fall for each other all over again.

I don't know what I was thinking when I decided that was a good ending. It's probably safe to say that these days no writer would think of ending this type of story like that, and if they did, no agent or editor would accept it.

(I was amused by the fact that whilst completely avoiding the issue of accidental bigamy, or any mention of her new husband, I deemed it important that she 'takes the car').

The reason I'm posting this today (apart from the obvious chance to give you all a nervous giggle at the insight into my teenage mind), is because underneath all the melodrama and plot holes I think that I had the tiniest seed of a good idea back in the 1980's. Hollywood must have agreed with me. Sleeping with the Enemy anyone? I remember the first time I saw the film. I told anyone who would listen (and a few more who wouldn't) how that was my idea and the success of the film obviously proved that if only I had written it, it would have been a best-seller. Obviously. Never mind the fact that I'm not Julia Roberts, not to mention a dozen other reasons why my assertion was wrong. You know what the biggest reason was? Yes of course you do. I didn't write a word of the damn thing. Ideas are easy. I've got loads of 'em. Some of them are even good; but they're not worth a bean until they become part of an interesting plot with well drawn characters. Almost three decades later, that's the part I'm still working on. (I also know now that two people can have the same idea and produce two totally different stories).

Did any of you ever have an idea that you thought was great, only to see it turn up later somewhere else?


  1. Um... not that I can think of! I do have lots of ideas I think are good at the time, and then they turn out to be complete rubbish. So sad when that happens. :(

  2. Weirdly, other people seem to avoid all my good ideas.

  3. Talli - I have lots of those too. For some reason I still insist on keeping notes about them, 'just in case'.

    Patsy - I just spat tea all over my keyboard!

  4. I think I'm just grateful I don't have any idea's written down from my teens!

  5. Rebecca - I'll admit they made me cringe, but they're good for a laugh :)


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