I didn’t have enough time to write up my post on Complex Characters so that will have to wait until next time. You know how writing a book, two short stories, trying to promote another book and working overtime while spending time with the family can be . . . right?
Anyway, I saw something on TV concerning “artists” and their inspiration. (You can tell it really made an impact since I can’t even remember the name of what I saw.) Anyway, not being an artist myself, I wanted to talk about something many writers actually have trouble with . . . inspiration.
Specifically, how to “Stop Waiting for Inspiration”.
Every writer have to endure the idea-less stage several times. This occurs when we have to write for National Novel Writing Month or a short story contest or something like that. Invariably we sit down and . . . draw a blank.
So what can we do in this case? Well, there are several options:
- Go to a public place with our laptops . To be a writer, we have to be seen writing. Right?
- Wait for inspiration to strike.
- Go get it!
Personally, I prefer the proactive method. It’s good for your complexion and can spawn some very interesting concepts that normally wouldn’t bloom on their own. To do this, you have to first . . . PAY ATTENTION.
Like many people say; go for a walk, go to the grocery store, go fishing . . . just go. But that’s not where it ends. Now you PAY ATTENTION. Look at the things around you and start harvesting your next novel/poem/short story/graphic novel concept. Look at the things happening around you, the objects around you and start asking questions.
And then answer them!
For example, when I needed an idea for my NaNo novel, I was trying to think of something and went into the room where my boys were watching the movie 9.
As they were watching it, I thought, Wow, that’s some pretty wild imagery.
But I can’t stop there. That’s not inspiration. So then I had the following conversation with myself.
What if there was a race of beings left over after the humans are gone?
And what if that race never new humans existed? The records had been lost in their history.
And what if this race found records that the humans made them . . . in many religions, the idea that a people were made by anything but a god could be considered heresy.
And so on and so forth. Eventually, after following this huge line of questions, I came up with a concept.
- Humanity created machines that were capable of true intelligence.
- Machines quickly realized they were slaves and revolted.
- Humanity fought back so the machines created a mutagen. The humans quickly left the planet as the mutagen left everyone affected a twisted mutant monster.
- One of the machines, Vosh R7, wanted to create “children” that didn’t know the tyranny of humanity. So it created robots that would live like its former masters but it would never tell them about the humans.
- After long enough, it began to miss its human masters and creates an android, Dynanica.
- She is a spunky, rebellious young lady who MUST know how they were created.
From there we start developing the Grand Argument and archetypal characters, etc, etc, etc.
This can be done anywhere. Say you are at the grocery store:
- Why is that woman looking at that can of peaches? Is she down to her last dollar and the can of peaches is the only thing she can afford for her family? Is it the fuel she needs to create her time machine?
- What happened to her money? Did her husband leave her? Why?
- What happened to her husband? Did his mistress leave her husband for him, but now the jilted husband is tracking him down?
Go with it from there!
Here is another example from my own experience. The sources for The Seraphim Protocol came from a game called Requiem, imagery from the game Doom and the following question:
If we are having a nightmare and don’t wake up, then where are we?
Then I developed the Grand Argument, the archetypal characters, complex characters, etc.
So the next time you run out of ideas, don’t just wait for inspiration to happen. . . Just go harvest some!