Listening to Our Muses

Four MusesA short while ago, I got together with a group of friends, most of whom were readers not writers.  It’s always fun  to get together with people who are strictly readers because they are always so fascinated by the creative process.  The things that are mundane to a writer, because that’s just how we operate, hold endless wonder for readers. I think that’s so awesome. When reader/writer gatherings occur, without fail, the question Where do your ideas come from? always gets asked. All artists have muses. They provide us with fodder for the next project constantly. Inspiration for stories is all around us everyday. Any little thing that sparks our interest can be the spring board for an entire novel, be it a news article, the scenery around you, an off hand comment from a friend/family/colleague.

What I find more interesting as both a reader and writer is how those ideas are in turn communicated to us.  I have writers friends that talk  about having characters pop into their heads and start talking, telling their story.  While I sometimes wish it would, it does not work that way for me at all.  I get movie clips in my head of these terrific scenes. It’s then up to me to translate them from an image into words. I have to figure out how bring the scene to life  so that a reader can generate their own version of that scene.  I probably function this way as a byproduct of being plot driven more so then a character driven writer. However, once I have the scene, then the trick becomes figuring out what characters are right for that scene and the story as a whole.
So I pose this question to all the writers out there, as I find is infinitely fascinating,  how do you get your story ideas? Do you see movie clips? Do you have characters wondering around in your head in search of the right plot? Please share.




2 responses to “Listening to Our Muses

  1. My ideas attack from all angles. I get them as movie clips from my dreams. They jump out at me when I see a headline in a newspaper or magazine.

    Heck, I’ve had secondary characters take over. On one occasion, I wrote 20 pages in his point of view before I realized that my story had been hijacked.

    I’ve gotten ideas from conversations that I’ve had and some that I overheard. (Sometimes it is fun to listen to what other people are saying.) Television documentaries and shows are also an inspiration on how to toss in extra conflict. Also, it could be one sentence from an email that someone sent that inspires me.

    Then again, there is this sign on Interstate 49 as one approaches Interstate 20. It inspired me by providing me a character’s name: Dallas Monroe. (Shreveport is almost a midway point between the two.)

    I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Oh well.
    Dennis H. Clarkston
    AKA Clark Stone

  2. We acknowledge the muse, certainly, whichever form she brings those gifts to us. When younger, I would also get them in the form of film clips. Today, however, the interaction with the muse has evolved into the other process you mentioned: the characters pace around in my head until I get their stories straight enough to translate into words. And when I start a novel, I might think I have an idea where it is going but I am sometimes quite surprised where the story turns.

    It is one of the reasons I love writing: I never know where it is going to lead any more than any other reader.

    The evolution came about, I suppose, because I was a “plot-driven” writer to start and became a “character-driven” writer. (Not to say that someone could evolve in the other direction – neither form is the end of the “evolutionary” chain.)

    In the end, which ever method works, take it and run.

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