Sometimes, I use examples from previous Creative Writing classes to let my current students know what not to do. For instance, the Time Goblins. I had a student. He was funny, creative, and fairly talented. However, instead of actually doing any work, he would just try to pitch these "million dollar ideas" that would just write themselves. And thus, he wouldn't need to write anything. He was like a Hollywood agent selling me on the same idea over and over. Enter the Time Goblins. According to this student, the Time Goblins eat time. That's all I know about them. That's all he's every told me about them. And, in his own words, that's all I need to know. Instead of writing stories, he'd just say the story has Time Goblins and take a bow. (He probably didn't actually take a bow. But in my mind, it was like he took a bow or made some dramatic gesture to anticipate my glowing approval.) I hate these stupid goblins, and they kept appearing in every assignment he chose not to write.

Recently, I told my Creative Writing class about the Time Goblins. It was part of my lesson that "good" ideas don't sell themselves. You have to develop a story, work at it, and craft it into something of value. There are numerous stories about magic and witches; there's only one Harry Potter. The fact that a story has a witch in it does not immediately make it a great story. Sweat equity, my young scholars. However, my example backfired on me. It turns out my class loves the Time Goblins. Loves them. They want Time Goblins in their stories. After all, they eat time. What more do you need to know? Somewhere, my former student, the champion of Time Goblins, is smiling.