We had a family viewing of the film version of Going Postal (adapted from the Terry Pratchet book) It’s basically about the postal system versus the clacks which is like a system of towers that sends a message through a code.
One of the characters had a vendetta against the clacks and had a mini version of one and was trying to find a way to jam it.
At this point my Dad pipes up, ‘She’s inventing the qwerty keyboard!’ He said that the letters on a keyboard are arranged because of old fashioned typewriters. If it was laid out alphabetically the keys would get stuck together. The qwerty system was the best layout for a typewriter so the keys wouldn’t jam. This was news to me.
My Dad realised that the character was sabotaging the clacks by finding how to jam it. He said ‘Well Pratchet didn’t come up with that idea! It’s already come from the keyboard.’
There’s no such thing as a new idea, everything has been done to death. The ingenuity is reinventing the idea to make it work in a new and refreshing way. Wizards, witches, wands and broomsticks are genre conventions that have been used in stories for decades but Rowling reinvented it to make a new and fascinating story. I thought Pratchet was so inventive to be inspired by something so simple as a system of devices/services of communication, including the typewriter and qwerty system and be able to make a story out of it.
Writing is not about new ideas; it’s about finding inspirational ideas and reinventing them.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!