A 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.
It seems as though there is always something trying to suck the creativity out of you. Stress with work or family, the responsibilities of day to day living, in my case school all seems to build up and make finding the motivation and inspiration to write difficult. There is always something that tugs at you, pulling you away from your writing or simply draining the creative well dry. Still, if we want to get anything finished we have to find a way to push on, recharge, and unblock the clogged creative channels so that the stories start flowing again.
One of the things I do is go to conferences. RWA’s National Conference is always very inspirational and gives my creativity stores a huge boost. Although I will say the strength of that recharge was seriously challenged this year. I came home to discover I had tests due in both of the classes that I’m currently taking. This amounted to four tests in the course of one week since each class requires the completion of a pretest and the actual exam. Unfortunately, school work had to take precedence over writing productivity. Once I got through that I jumped back in and actually started making progress.
Another creative boost for me is brainstorming with friends. I love playing the what if game and seeing where it will take me. On a smaller scale a hot shower seems to be another way to help clear the cobwebs and help me focus in on the scene I want to write. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the solution to a plot issue come to me while I’m in the shower. Seriously, I need some sort of waterproof notepad so I can jot down these ideas when they come to me.
What about you? How do you keep those creative batteries charged?
When I sat down to write my first paranormal story, my sources of inspiration came from some very strange places. History and science, even some odd facts from those theology classes I took in college an eon ago popped back into my head. Yes, that’s right. My supernatural world has strong roots in the real one.
You see, I am a nerd. A total and complete geek with a capital “G.” I love to plunk down in front of the big screen TV with a huge bowl of popcorn to watch…
The Smithsonian Channel.
Or National Geographic or The History Channel. You get the idea. An entire hour on the Saxon invasion of Britain? I got goose bumps thinking about it. A special on the building of the pyramids? I’m setting my DVR to record as soon as I finish writing this post.
I know I’m weird because my teenagers inform me of this on a regular basis, right after they whine long enough that I gather my popcorn and retreat to my bedroom to find out how the Mayans built Chichen Itza. But those documentaries on NatGeo about the Amazon Rainforest come in darned handy when my writing partner and I are working on the Amazon Heat series. Did you know Amerindians used the toxic secretions of dart frogs to poison the tips of blow darts? I did, and you can look for that fun fact to appear in story number two. And I’ll admit it right here, my werewolves in my last WIP share some behaviors with Cesar’s pack. Obviously, I’ve watched too many episodes of The Dog Whisperer, but we all have our guilty pleasures.
Let’s not forget all the fabulous mythology that was an integral part of many ancient civilizations. A show on ancient Greece wouldn’t be complete without a good dose of Greek mythology. Paranormal stories aren’t anything new. Tales of monsters, gods, demons, and other supernatural beings date back to the very start of mankind.
I think the best fantasy uses elements of reality to make the paranormal world feel authentic and pull the reader in. What do you think?