Saturday, October 12, 2013

Inspiration Is Like A Food Processor or Why I Love Flash Gordon

Photo from sxc by Brainloc
From the Merriam-Webster OnLine Dictionary because one must have proper attribution in a post about plagiarism versus inspiration:  "Plagiarism: to use the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own words or ideas."

OK, I don't DO that. My seventh grade English teacher Miss Pipkins scared the living daylights out of all of us when she assigned our first ever term papers and taught us about footnotes. I footnoted the HECK out of that paper (one sentence had three footnotes all by itself) and any and all research papers written since. I don't remember exactly what she said any longer (seventh grade was kind of a long time ago and there've been many life events since then, trust me) but the effect of her dire admonition never wore off.

For the day job I also work in a place where Science is Done (yup, capitalized Science, Nobel Prize-winning worthy stuff although not done by me personally...) I have shaken the hand of a Nobel prize you can imagine the emphasis there is definitely on original thinking, proper attribution, proper credit-where-credit-is-due.

But I don't do science, at work or in my private life - I write about ancient Egyptian dancers and warriors and their gods, or else I'm in the far future with aliens and spaceships and Special Forces operators with blasters. No need for footnotes there! I am influenced by all the 1950’s B movies I soaked up on late night television as a kid (Flash Gordon, Forbidden Planet, Princess of the Nile….) but as several of the other Whores have said, earlier this week, everything I’ve ever seen, heard or read has gone into my imagination. Like whole vegetables into a Cuisinart (used to sell those in my retail life but that’s another story), stuff flows into my conscious and my unconscious and my subconscious. My Muse slices and dices and minces and mixes that with all my own personal experiences and THEN…out come my plots of my books.

I got over two million results on a Google search tonight for “story archetypes” so no footnotes needed, I hope, to emphasize that as human beings we’re all basically dealing with a set of Big Themes and  what we bring to the fiction writing effort is the stuff our Muse has hidden away in her cupboard? (Wow, I’m getting into some mixed metaphors here…).

So.  I’m going to leave you with one of my early influences, the Flash Gordon. I think you’ll see he’s mixing up most of the Story Archetypes pretty nicely, along with deathless dialog, instalove, hunky heroes, blonds vs. brunettes, strange alien worlds (I can hardly keep a straight face here, considering Ming’s guards appear to be recruited from Monty Python and Ancient Rome…)  

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