Monday, August 13, 2007

Inspiration Strikes

I love those folks over at Fangs, Fur& Fey because they keep posting really interesting writing-related questions. This time the question comes from Patrice Michelle and it is:

What is the most unusual thing/person/situation that has inspired your story/stories? and When you're looking for inspiration, what do you do to stir your imagination?

I'm going to answer the last question first because it's probably the easiest. When I'm looking for inspiration I read.

I used to worry that I'd accidentally steal some other author's ideas, but I've come to realize that there really isn't anything new under the sun and the more I read in science fiction/fantasy, the better I write it. Also, and this is probably a terrible answer for someone who teaches SF/F, but I also watch TV for inspiration. If the show is good and the characters are compelling, shows like Battlestar Galatica or, in its day, X-Files can be pretty damn inspiring. In fact, I can trace the seed of the idea that became Archangel Protocol from a specific episode of X-Files.

When I'm stuck in the middle of a scene or a moment, I'll either sleep on it (these days I'm always writing when the rest of the household is asleep), take a bath to ruminate on the problem, or, if it's possible, go for a walk. When I walk out a problem I usually talk to myself out loud, which can be kind of adventageous in my neighborhood because it means no one bothers me.

So, now the first question last. What's the most unusual thing that's inspired me? Probably technical articles about products I've never used. When I was writing the AngeLINK universe I was an XML coding drone, and, as a result, I had access to all sorts of weird tech articles in magazines that my boss subscribed to. I was really never technologically savvy enough to do anything really inventive or such with my feeble XML skillz, but I'd let my imagination go places I couldn't. I specifically remember an article about a security program that's acronym was, and I kid you not, S.A.T.A.N. When I read that I had to work it into one of my stories.

How about you?


Muneraven said...

Objects sometimes make stories grow in my head. In college these girls in my dorm made a human figure, life-size, out of wire coat-hangers, put a dress on it, and called it their mother. I wrote a story about that. "The Wire Mother."

Places sometimes demand a story, too. In British Columbia there is a low-rent theme park based on the Flintstones cartoon show called "Bedrock City." I always found the place grimly fascinating and ended up writing a story mostly set there. The title (the name of the park) functions nicely as a metaphor . . .

Sometimes words stick in my head and I have to find a story to fit the words. Ray Bradbury plays a lot with words, making up titles and then sort of waiting for a story to grow into the space under the title. Sometimes that happens to me. I'm still waiting for a story to go with the title "White Shoes Fresco." I LOVE that title. Hello muse? It's been over TEN YEARS and still no story with white shoes or frescos . . .

lydamorehouse said...

Those are awfully cool inspirations. I know that Naomi Kritzer (of this group) wrote a story based on a necklace title.

Anonymous said...

Uh, a portrait of a bit character from a Sega Genesis video game and a character from a D&D game who I didn't play like I wanted to.

It's usually been RPGs / video games, but as it's getting harder to find good specimens of either, I've been hunting inspiration.

It felt bloody weird some months ago to have written something I thought of completely from the blue. I wanted to write my own "mindscrew robot anime" novel and away I went. ;)