Tips For Story Inspiration

I hear a lot of people say that they want to write a story/book, but they have no idea WHAT to write about.  This is an understandable predicament.  I've been there before.  Admittedly not often, but I have been there.  And it is a frustrating place to be.

So today I thought I'd talk about inspiration.  Where I get inspiration from and maybe offer some tips on how to look for inspiration in the smallest of ways.

My most popular series/book is the FALL OF ANGELS, namely with the first book, BRANDED.  I've been asked quite a bit how I got the idea for it.  Not many people look at the concept of angels in such a dark way.

I got the idea for it while re-watching the latest version of The Phantom of the Opera.  I've loved the music since I was 12, and in fact, that was the only Christmas present I asked for that year, was a CD of it.  But for some reason, 8+ years later, the lyrics to one song hit me in a different way.  Angel Of Music.  Now, Christine is singing this, talking about the Phantom.  And I thought about how odd to refer to him as an angel.  He was terrifying, he'd done terrible things.  Why would anyone ever call him an angel?  And then there is another song that talks about the Phantom being inside her mind.

Que a story about a girl who has nightmares of terrifying angels.

The inspiration for THE EDEN TRILOGY came while I was re-watching Star Wars III.  There is a shot with Anakin and his new mechanical hand and I had the idea How cool would it be if he'd somehow grown that mechanical hand?  And if it was somehow part of his DNA?

Here comes a story about technology that takes over human flesh and turns you into a robotic zombie.

WHAT I DIDN'T SAY was a bit different.  Initially the idea for a person who could not speak came from an episode of Gray's Anatomy.  There was a patient who ended up with their vocal cords damaged and after that couldn't talk.  But this one was also largely based on my own experiences growing up as a teenager.  It was also based on the island where I live, and my husbands family, and another family here on the island.

TV is good for this writer.

Let me introduce you to a tool I've been using lately.  This isn't a new concept.  This isn't unique to me.  It's simple.  And when I say lately, I'm talking only like the last few weeks have I been doing this.

I've been keeping this little notebook by my side.  I try to keep it with me at all times, though I admit I'm not always successful.  I try to make sure it is always in my purse.  It is ALWAYS by me whenever I am watching TV/movies or reading a book.

Now, this doesn't mean I'm ripping off TV shows or other people's books.  We never do that, people.

But sometimes little ideas strike you during these times.

I think my biggest thing with this post is this: Inspiration doesn't have to be huge.  It doesn't have to be full plot or world ideas.  It can be small.  Something little.

Like character traits.

The other day I was watching a show and the common line was said "You're such a bad liar."  A phrase used often.  But I thought of a character who was a fantastic liar.  The kind of person who can tell such a good lie that sometimes they even believe themselves.  And from there it went onto the thought of what if I had a narrator who admitted that everything you are about to read might not be true?  How are you the reader to ever know what is the truth behind the story?

So I wrote this down.  It isn't a full story.  It isn't really a plot.  But it's interesting.  It would be the basis for a very interesting character.

Sometimes a single word will make you ponder.  It's a word you've heard multiple times but when you have the concept of inspiration in your head and story making as a driving force in your life, you look at it differently.

Say, the word sleepwalking.  Or crucifixion.

Both words I have written in this notebook recently.

You see an image that is unique and interesting, and the blues in it are just incredible.  Suddenly you think of rings around a planet that is run on a unique energy.

See, you write down all these little, random things.  You record character traits, or concepts, or just thoughts.  And someday you might start linking them together in a new and creative way.  And suddenly, you might have an incredible story to tell.

I find inspiration in a lot of random places.  I was watching the music video for Daughtry's new song "Waiting For Superman."  And I got two new ideas.  I won't say them here because there's a chance I might actually write them someday, but LISTEN.  WATCH.  Not just with this video, I'm not talking that small.  I'm talking with everything.  Visual and musical inspiration is powerful.

Which leads me to images.  I LOVE Pintrest.  And DeviantArt.  I have a board on Pintrest called "Inspirational Pictures".  This is not what you might call your normal inspirational picture board.  Mine is filled with images of two creepy hands sticking out of the ground, reaching for each other.  It's got images of odd lockets, and owls, and floating ships.  Buffalo's walking out of the fog, monsters in the dark, and and amazing Victorian dresses.  Sometimes just the right image can create an entire world.

Don't feel like a failure if you don't yet have an idea for an entire story, or have an entirely new world built.  Keep your eyes open.  Keep your mind open.  Look at ordinary things in extraordinary ways.  Because even the most ordinary thing can be turned into something extraordinary.  And write things down.  Because you may think you would never forget that idea or concept.  But you will.  At least I do.

Stories are everywhere if you're looking.


Sheena-kay Graham said...

I too have been inspired by television. It's great that you shared different ways that you got inspired and inspiration can come from anything. Two of my wips were inspired by something posted on blogs. One had a Snapple quote about bullfrogs never sleeping and another mentioned a kid telling a monster under his bed rent was due.

So every idea is unique and it's very smart of you to keep a book to write your ideas in. Thanks for sharing and I plan to check out your Pinterest boards later. I love looking at images.

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