Thursday, June 17, 2010

Back on the Blog Chain: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

I'm part of a blog chain with a group of other writers in various genres. (You can find links to the other members in the sidebar.) About twice a month, we discuss different writing topics. This time, Shaun, whose novel The Deathday Letter was just published this week, asked us this question:

From where do you get your inspiration for stories?  Give me the oddest, coolest, things that have inspired you.

Kate preceded me in the chain, and Eric comes after me.

I actually discussed this topic on my website ages ago, but I don't think it's enough for the blog chain to just provide a link. Besides, ideas are everywhere. I get them from my daily experiences, from people I meet online, from science articles, and from other books. This is good, as I feel one idea isn't always enough to create a story; you need two ideas to create a story with a unique angle. As an example, my short story "A Reptile at the Reunion" was inspired by an invitation to my graduate school reunion and a magazine's challenge to write a story around the line, "Say, aren't you dead?" (In the first draft of the story, my main character was presumed dead by her classmates, but in the final version, she's just been on another planet for a long time.)

I've also received inspiration from the Beatles, my favorite musical group. Their four-fold synergy inspired me to create a quartet of female magicians who must work together to save their country from a storm that mixes up the seasons. I also used to write Beatles fan fiction, and after reading a story about the Beatles in the Cavern (a club in Liverpool where they played before they became famous), I wanted to use the same setting too. As a science fiction writer, I wanted to give the story a SF twist, so I sent a descendant of John's back in time to clone him. That story, "Move Over Ms. L.," earned me an Honorable Mention in an international novella competition, but it also inspired me to then write a story about the clone. After many rewrites and removal of most of the Beatle references, I wound up with my current WIP, Across Two Universes.

That leads me to my final point: once I come up with characters and a story, I find that they inspire me to write more stories about them. What I think will be a short story may be the start of a saga. And while that may not be the oddest inspiration I've received so far, I still think it's pretty cool.

12 comments:

Kris & Kels said...

You have an award on our blog!

<3 Kelsey Leigh

Cole Gibsen said...

You are so right about music - I forgot to inlude that in my answer :D It's amazing what the right song can do!

lbdiamond said...

Yeah, I second what Cole said--music can really have a big impact. In fact, when I listen to certain albums, I think of a previous novel I wrote and the emotional impact is quite striking.

I think it's cool how one character triggers a series of epics. Awesome!!

nomadshan said...

I've had the experience of a minor character in a story crying out for their own story. Writing is a twisty path like that, right?

Eric said...

Wow, some great inspirations. I completely understand how the Beatles can inspire you. I don't think there's a single song they made that I don't like. Okay, time for me to go answer this myself.

Michelle McLean said...

ahhh, music is a big one for me too :) Great post!

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

As great as the Beatles' music is, I should point out that John, Paul, George, and Ringo were and are very interesting people. I get ideas directly from them as people.

B.J. Anderson said...

Yay for the Beatles!! And I know what you mean about having one character inspire another character for a different book. Great post!

Christine Fonseca said...

Music is a HUGE influence on me!

Shaun Hutchinson said...

Ahhhh, music is the best! And I think your reunion topic was awesome!

Sarah Bromley said...

Writing prompts can be a great place to get inspiration, and I agree that music is a big old muse that you can go to again and again.

Michelle H. said...

You can never go wrong with music. I always listen to some whenever I type up anything!

Site Meter