Friday, August 10, 2007



Where does it come from?

That’s probably one of the most frequently asked questions that an author hears. Where do you get your ideas? Where do your characters come from?

If you asked a hundred different authors you’d probably get a similar answer—EVERYWHERE.

Ideas abound in the everyday and in the mundane. We listen to snippets of conversation while we’re standing in a line-up at the grocery store. We notice the interesting looking gentleman at the coffee shop. We check out what other women are wearing and file it away for future use. In short, authors are always on the lookout for inspiration.

The media is a great place to spark ideas—magazines, books, movies and television. An article in a magazine might make an author stop and go “hmmm”, while a headline on a tabloid newspaper could start a story spinning. Movies are inspirational if only for the pure physicality of them. Check out the movie “300” and you’ll have visions of hard-bodied warriors running around in your head. For an author, that could lead to a story idea, maybe even taking them to another planet or an alternate universe. With so many news programs and reality television shows available these days there is inspiration everywhere.

Sure, most people notice these things, but the author holds them up, squints, and looks a them slightly differently, maybe takes them apart and twists them around to create something totally new.

Life is filled with possibilities and little gems of story ideas just waiting to be hatched. On the very rare occasion a flash of inspiration will pop in your mind, seemingly out of nowhere. I always figure that’s a gift from the Muses and I take it and run with it.

Sometimes the Muse can forsake an author, leaving them with pen poised and nothing to say. At that point, an author needs to stop thinking and trust that inspiration will come. Take a walk, do the dishes, read a book, eat chocolate. In other words, let go and allow the ideas to flow to you.

Yes, there is inspiration everywhere and authors somehow manage to find the golden little gems in the everyday and from them conjure something completely unique.

It’s a fun job to get paid to make up stuff. And I know that every author out there feels the same way.


Christine d'Abo said...

I love the fact I can take a simple situation from real life and turn it into something amazing and big. And the fact that someone wants to pay me to do it is just a bonus. :)

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I just have a never-ending movie playing in my head where I call all the shots.

It's a way to pass time while I sit in long, boring meetings.

N.J.Walters said...

And that's the absolute truth, Christine!

I sometimes get to call the shots, Ann. LOL Mostly I feel as if I'm just taking dictation. *g*

TinaGerow said...

I totally agree! Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to pay attention :)

Great post!