Ideas are cheap raw materials. The hard part is knowing how to use them.

A little while back, I was describing Audrey Driscoll’s The Friendship of Mortals to someone. After I was done, she looked at me and said, “So it’s an H.P. Lovecraft slash fanfiction?”

I was about to argue the point, but then I realized she was right. It is–except that, if you describe it that way, it would lead people to expect something very different than what The Friendship of Mortals actually is. Fanfiction has a reputation for low quality among Serious Writers, and so if you describe something as such, most people will automatically assume it’s bad, or at least amateurish.

Friendship of Mortals is a very well-written, high-quality book–in fact, it’s better than many books from big publishers and well-known authors that I have read. Calling it a Lovecraft fanfic, while perhaps technically accurate, doesn’t begin to describe it.

People often assume that the ideas are the hard part of creating something. I used to assume this too. I think it was when I watched this talk by Chris Avellone that I realized it wasn’t true.

(That’s a fantastic talk, by the way. If you don’t like video games but enjoy writing, just watch this section. If you like games, watch the whole thing.)

This isn’t a new concept–hence the famous Edison quote, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”. But it’s hard to grasp until you start making things.

In this regard, ideas are easy to come by–they are like abundant raw materials that require lots of training to know how to use. It’s easy to dream up a concept for a story, or a new invention, or a business model. The hard part is doing the nitty-gritty stuff that makes it work.

13 Comments

        1. I just finished “Drafted”, and I think it’s my favorite one yet! Great job.

    1. And I’m very lucky to know wonderful writers like you who are so good at doing just that!

  1. Yeah, my half dozen, half-completed novels continue to scream at me on a daily basis, “Remember us. Great idea! Now get on with it. Suspended animation is not a great place for a story to be!!!

  2. You know, I’ve quite often asked myself that about Friendship of Mortals — is it just a great big fanfic of HPL’s “Herbert West, Reanimator”? Technically, I guess so, but I like to think it’s a really good quality fanfic, and I’m glad you and others agree on that point. Thanks for the mention!

    1. It’s a great book. And in my opinion, people who use “fanfic” as a pejorative are just being snobs. Some of the most famous works of literature are essentially fanfic. (e.g. “Paradise Lost ” was, in my estimation, just John Milton’s Bible fanfic.) 🙂

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