“If at first an idea does not sound absurd, then there is no hope for it.”


I think this is a pretty good barometer for story ideas. Sure, Einstein was probably referring to scientific ideas, where breakthroughs can only occur when the familiar and the expected are jettisoned at the get go. And not all fiction seeks to be imaginative in a radical way. But for writers of the fantastic, I think Albert hit the nail on the head. The fun is in making the absurd premise feel tangibly plausible.

I’m not ready to share the premise of the book I’m currently working on, but by this criteria there is definitely hope for it.

I’ve already had to research the US Marine Corp Iraq deployment, sub irrigation rooftop gardens in NYC, Babylonian mythology, the Appalachian trail, Homeland Security, and a heap of Arabic magical lore. It’s a book I’ve wanted to write for years, but only recently did I see the absurd angle that put it all in focus.

So if you have a story idea that you think is just too crazy, give it a shot. You may be onto something. Publishing people even have a name for those ideas that ring your That’s so fucking out there that it makes perfect sense bell. They call them High Concept. How kind.

Wait a minute, do you think they mean, “You must have been high when you came up with that concept?”


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