I shelved the blog post I was going to write, because something caught my eye and made it pop out in anger. You may or may not have noticed that last month was the deadline for The Big Idea Competition, an apparent bid to find the ‘next big thing’ (you’re not yawning already?).
This is the brainchild of Barry Cunningham, well-known as the editor who discovered Harry Potter, which was the biggest Big Thing in publishing history, and also Tunnels, which… wasn’t. The premise is simple. As in, simply infuriating.
‘Have you got an idea for a story that children will love?’ the website asked. ‘Then tell us in 500 words! Win the chance of seeing your idea transformed into a book, movie, TV or theatre production!’
There is so much wrong with this premise – in fact the whole concept is so breathtakingly cynical and disingenuous – that I hardly know where to begin. The supposed rationale, as explained in its publicity materials, sounds reasonable enough: there are lots of people out there who might have a great idea for a story, but who lack the skill / patience / masochism to actually sit down and write it. But don’t worry! the organisers assure us. We’ve got stacks of authors and playwrights and impresarios right here! You come up with a good idea, and we’ll do the rest. Simples.