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.