Thursday, April 14, 2011

Element Theft

I’m guilty of it. I steal them ALL the time. I should probably explain what I mean by elements because I think it’s really a story term I made up. It’s not a theme. It’s not the hook. It’s… an element.

For example in my last book I stole an element from the Temperance Brenan on Bones. I loved the idea of having someone – very smart – but with a deep seated fear that kept her separate from the world around her. My Camille wasn’t Bones. But she had a Bones like element to her that I wanted to explore.

I recently re-read the Iron Duke. In trying to break down what I loved so much about this book I realized there is an element to the hero that I love. The Duke reacts instantly to Mina and pursues her relentlessly. There is never any question whether or not he’s going to shag her. He’s going to shag her. It’s just a question of when. And for the me - that driven pursuit of something you want - is an element that I would also love to explore. So I will steal it.

Now I’m not going to lie, sometimes I do feel guilty about my thievery. I mean if I were a great writer (which obviously I’m not) I could develop elements that other people would like to steal.

Instead I let people do all the hard work and then I just pick and choose and mix and match and explore all the sides of the element the way I want to.

I know – it doesn’t seem fair. But then again I’m a thief and therefore fair doesn’t really enter into it for me.

What about you – anybody ever steal the made up thing I call an element? Go on. Confession is good for the soul.

5 comments:

Stephanie Doyle said...

Just for the record - I actually scheduled this post on Tuesday before Maureen's post yesterday...

So stealing was just the natural theme of the week it seems :)

Eileen said...

Oh, absolutely! I'll try to figure out what I loved about a book and incorporate it into my work. For instance, I tried to figure out what I really loved about Robin Hobb's Apprentice series and used that idea of a person who is not terribly important having to assume the role of a hero in my Messenger series.

Recently I spent some time trying to decide what I love about Jodi Picoult's work. Now I'm trying to write an issue-oriented book that shows the very human side of a political issue.

And I loved Camille. My heart ached from her although I'd never try to hug her to make her feel better. :-)

Maureen McGowan said...

That's so funny that we had the same idea for a post. It must be because we're all working on new ideas.

I always feel like I'm stealing when I come up with something good. When I think I've come up with something original, eventually someone points out to me what I was stealing from, even if it was subconscious. That's why I loved that steal like an artist post. It's nice to be reminded that there are no truly original ideas.

Sinead M said...

Hell yes... where I get confused often is can I make my voice fit the element that I'm stealing..

Not always sadly..

Molly O'Keefe said...

I swear I am three days behind myself right now - something about this weather is making my life fall apart. not used to this sunshine or something.

Right now I am stealing elements from Friday Night Lights (oh sweet sweet Tim Riggins) and Shameless (if you are not watching Shameless right now, you should be because there is just so much good stuff to steal) I'm also trying to think of how I can steal an element from carrie Ryan's last of the Forest of Hands and Teeth book - but so far, no theft.

I like to think of it as inspiration...helps me sleep at night...

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