Where Does an Author Get Inspiration?

So, before I go on a fun little rant, I wanted to promote my FB page of my first book “The Irises of Flame.” I have 15 likes so far and would like to gain a bigger audience, so would you do an aspiring author a favor and help like it and spread it? I will gladly do the same for your novels, if you’re starting out. Authors have got to support each other!

HaydenCressidaSeries

Thanks!

(By the way, I’m not sure who the artist is for my featured image, I just found it on Google. If you know the artist, please let me know so I can credit them!)

Now to go on about my post. Just yesterday I was sitting in one of the grassy areas in San Jose state campus just doing my homework, and as I looked up to people watch (as I normally do so I don’t have to do too much homework at once), it fascinated me how many different lives there really were. A group of guys were chatting in the grass, another male duo were laying belly first in the grass looking at computers, there were girls in skirts and others in plain t-shirts, some hurrying to get somewhere while others were either in no rush or just slacking. As I stared at all these lives, and reflecting on how simple mine seems in comparison, it really got me thinking. With so many people, with all lives so, incredibly busy, it’s just absolutely amazing how we still find time to read. Through the girls rushing, the men talking, or just doing homework, we still sit ourselves down and give ourselves an opportunity to fall in love with another world.

Which brings me to the point of this post. With all of these events transpiring in our lives, when do we (authors) find the time to even write in the first place? Simple: inspiration. It’s a powerful thing, my friends.

Which, in turn, made me ask this: where, exactly, does inspiration come from? Let’s explore it, shall we?

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about,
but the music words make.”

– Truman Capote

I thought this quote fit the circumstances perfectly. Which, actually, can bring me to one of the top reasons why we authors get inspired to write…music.

1. Music

listen-to-music

Oh, music! I think this is the most obvious of inspirations. Every single thing about music can get a writer inspired, down to the melody, words, genre, and mood it gives. Heck, even one line out of a song can get you inspired to write a short story or even a novel. For instance, the song “A Twist in My Story” by Secondhand Serenade made me write my first book series (which I never finished). However, it’s still quite fascinating what music can really do to us.

Music can give inspiration for entire plots, or even as short as one scene in a book. I can’t count how many times a song has inspired me to write a scene in my books that I never would’ve thought of on my own. Actually, fun fact, in every single one of my books, there’s at least one quote from a lyric of a song that inspired me to write. For example, one of my characters narrates, “Would you kill to save a life? Would you kill to do what’s right?” Thank you “Hurricane” by 30 seconds to mars for that one! Song titles can even inspire to title your own short stories or novels!

“The Irises of Flame” inspired by “Through the Iris” by 10 years. “Buried Beneath the Fire’s Gaze” inspired by “Buried Beneath” by RED. “Inferno of Shadows” inspired by “Shadows” by RED. See? It’s amazing!

While music can be the start of an inspiration for a story, it can also help during the writing process as well. I personally quite enjoy listening to music as I write, and I change up the genre to fit the mood of what I’m writing. Surprisingly, though, I’ve found that listening to movie scores to be the most inspiring for most anything! If you haven’t already, check out the website 8tracks, which is free music/playlists people have created based on your mood. I highly suggest it!

Now on to my next point.

2. Movies

movie_night_by_maruitenshi-d632zyn

(thanks to MaruiTenshi for the artwork. Love it!)

Just like music, this is one of the most obvious sources of inspiration that an author can have. There are plenty things in movies that can inspire us to write, down to the small, nitpicky things that most people may not find as obviously inspiring.

-The overall plot. This being the most obvious, I listed it first. Hollywood can get incredibly creative with its plots, one of my favorite’s being Inception. Love it! All of these creative juices on-screen can really play fun ideas in the head. Perhaps you want to snip a certain idea from a movie, such as the idea of possession, romance, another world, or even a talking squirrel that brings you snowflakes in fall. We, as writers, can take these general plots and find a way to make it our own.

-Characters. We see a lot of cliché characters on-screen, and we also see these incredibly unique ones. This can inspire us to create our own characters from their example, or take certain traits that character has and put it in our own. It’s amazing how a plot can wrap around a character instead of having it vice versa.

-The emotions. Ah! The feels! This can go down the deep core of the plot, to individual people, and to expressions (which I’ll cover next). My favorite example of emotions is from the movie “Super 8” when the main character, Joe, is arguing with his dad. He’s telling his son he’s not allowed to see his friend again, and in response Joe cries, “No! She’s nice to me!”

super5That scene alone inspired me to write a scene in one of my books that I never would have thought of. Emotions drive a plot, and it’s incredible to witness actors/actresses playing their role so well to entrap us.

Speaking of emotions, there are expressions that go along with the words they say. This alone can be inspiration, since these vivid characters and personalities can formulate into your head for a scene or plot. I know I’ve been quite inspired on how people express themselves on the screen, which has helped me with my descriptions when people are upset or angry. Such as how the face forms, how the body stands, and how the voice inflicts at certain pitches. A good example of a wonderful actor that’s great with expressions is mister Evan Peters.

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Watch American Horror Story. Please. Evan Peters played Tate, which is a character I fell deeply in love with for everything he was. See what expressions he can give; that intensity? It really helps me know how I can describe my own characters’ movements when they’re angry, down to the neck extending and slightly leaning forward, as well as a slight shake to the stance. Thank you Evan for helping me with that description. Thank you.

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Oh my gosh I love you too. So much 😀 Amazing what actors can do to us just on how they can act out their character. It can inspire you to want to do the same on the page.

-One-liners. Oh, we’ve got to love the one-liners in movies that stick with us for a lifetime. One of my favorites: “Of course it’s happening in your head, Harry, but why on Earth should that mean it isn’t real?” -Dumbledore.

The one-liners can inspire us to use the concept in a scene, as a full short story, or as a part of the plot in a novel. I’ve had scenes wrap around the idea of some one-liners, from novels and movies alike, although of course I have to write the one-liner a bit differently so it’s my own.

Here’s another one of my favorite’s.

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You tell him, Joe! Amazing words 🙂

We also can’t forget the classic: “Life is like a box of chocolates, ya’ll never know what ya gonna get.”

-Setting. This one is also obvious when it comes to the creative juices. Seeing all these different places that movies present us is quite the inspiration, especially when it comes to something new and different. Either it be the futuristic setting of Star Trek or the dumps of District 9, these settings can inspire us as writers to create our own worlds, or coexist our imagination into the present world we’re already in.

-Plot twists/screwed up endings. Ha! Seeing all these plot twists can inspire to make your own! Like…holy crap, the girl he just kissed was his sister from another dimension? WHAT?! It’s fun to screw with your audience, just make sure not to do it too much in order to piss them off. For the love of God, don’t make it all a dream…just don’t…(unless you’re in Inception).

On the other side of the spectrum, bad endings can inspire us to write a better one. I’ve had this feeling with many movies, mainly romances. It’s funny how inspiration can come to you because you have the desire to fix it for the better.

I’m sure there’s small snippets I’m missing when it comes to inspirations from movies, so if I missed something that inspires you, then list below!

3. People we know

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That picture looks like it should be in a catalogue for a summer camp or something. “Oh my gosh we all love each other so much, let’s take a picture and make it last FOREVAH ermagerd lulz facebook hashtag, havin fun!”

Anyway 🙂 The people that surround us affects the characters we create. But before that even transpires, they can even help create a plot to a story. It’s fascinating the crazy shenanigans people can get themselves into. Either it be a comical event or a serious one, their lives can inspire you to write about it in your own twist. Such as, for example, one of your friends/family takes care of dogs for a living. PLOT TWIST: these dogs are actually her prior husbands that she turned into dogs in order to keep them forever, and she has to eat one every year in order to keep her youth. BOOM.

These people’s traits can also help you create a character of your own. The father figure in my books is based off my own father (for the most part), and miss Evelyn (the youngest and sweetest) is inspired from a dear friend of mine in middle school that had such a warm personality. Also, on the other side of the spectrum, you can meet people that you wish to create their opposites. For example: my sister is this giddy, super happy girl, which made me want to create Amber who’s full of attitude, and stubborn as all get out.

On an even cooler part of the spectrum, you can get inspiration from people you don’t know to begin with. Such as in the beginning of my post, when I was people watching, you can make up extreme plots to their lives and personalities. I make up stories for people all the time (they tend to get pretty twisted), but sometimes you create this one story for someone, and that’s when it hits you like an epiphany: you need to create that character on the page. Amazing feeling!

However, I need to make a bold statement right now. You can/will get inspired by people you know, but please, PLEASE don’t name your character with the same title as the person you were inspired by. This character will become your friend, and in turn you’ll be instinctually afraid to let anything really bad happen to that character. Don’t do it. You still need to distance yourself from the real person and the one in your head. Never make it the same person; the character won’t have any room to grow. Deal? Alright 🙂

4. Yourself

self_portrait_by_kutyus_rex-d3277c1

(thank you kutyus-REX for the amazingly stunning artwork. I’m blown away.)

This, I believe, is one of the highest forms of inspiration: your own self. The mind is an amazing thing, it can create plotlines and scenarios on a daily basis. You know how you space out in class and instead imagine having a conversation with one of your friends? Or, my status, imagine entire scenes for a novel; so big, in fact, that I have to take notes so I won’t forget on a later date. Your own experiences and fantasies can create a wonderous world of fiction (or nonfiction if you so choose).

So, time to dive in a bit on my personal life, shall we? In middle school–as many people tend to relate–was a very difficult time for me. Problems at home that I won’t go into, but I also didn’t have any friends to talk to at school. I was a real outcast, and it was pretty terrible. I couldn’t find myself. Since I wasn’t friends with anyone I didn’t really have anyone to bounce my brain off of (weird way to word it, I apologize), and therefore–even being in middle school–I continued to play with Barbie’s because it was my only way to really create something with my life. A way to release. A way to connect.

And that’s when it hit me: why don’t I just write about it instead? So, I did. I got a personal journal, and while some days I would recount what happened, I would also make up stories I wish did transpire. I’m sure you’d like to know that by freshmen year of high school I was finally finding my place, and I went back to my journal to read over certain things that I created. All of them were personal with me in them, but then I thought of how it’d be like to create a story with a person I make up.

Voila: a writer is born.

I’m not saying that you have to go through really hard times to be inspired to write, in fact, some of the most beautiful things I’ve read are from authors with a wonderful life and family. I’m mainly making a point that the harder times tend to be more difficult to cope with, and to release some kind of tension inside, you can write.

On the positive side of being inspired by yourself, you can also pick up on your own characteristics and traits that you wish to be portrayed through someone else. For instance, I narrate my novels in a more comedic standpoint, even in serious moments, just to give the reader breathing room. It’s just a part of my personality: I tend to make weird, small comments that humor people, so I try to integrate it in my writing style. You can also be inspired by your own accomplishments, places you’ve been, or the morals you believe in.

Being inspired by yourself is also interesting because it can create a character that I, personally, find to be the funnest: someone the complete opposite of you in every single respect. To me, this character in my books would be Mykel. He’s quiet, extremely guarded, hides his feelings, stiff, and unforgiving. I’m nothing like that! Yet I absolutely adore having him in as many scenes as possible, even if to mention him lazily flipping through a book in boredom. His presence of my opposite personality is extremely fun to play around with.

You’d be amazed how much inspiration you can get by your own self. Down to personality, details in expressions, places you’ve been, and things you’ve been through.

5. Tension

Tension___Exeunt_by_sashaisinsane

(thank you sashaisinsane for the photo. Stunning!)

This one relates to the point I was just making previously. There’s a lot of tension in your life, and difficult things you have to endure. You’d be amazed how much inspiration that can give you to write.

I know this may sound morbid, but it’s actually pretty nice to be in absolute control of a character’s life; you can kill them, hurt them, or make them suffer just as much as you are. It may sound a bit weird, but it’s a strange comfort.

Or, on the other end, this tension inside you can inspire you to write a good story, or continue on a wonderful romance plot just to make you feel even a little bit better inside. I personally can’t force a mood into my writing, but I’m impressed by those that can.

Writing becomes a therapeutic experience, a creative release and a mental break. Don’t let the hard things bring you down, instead let them inspire you to create something wonderful.

6. Dreams

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(thanks to Virus69 for this amazingly creative piece of art)

I have no idea how many ideas have come to me just from a dream or a collection of them. Here’s a really cool quote that I think pertains to dreams and writing: “Dreams are illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.” -Marsha Norman.

It’s true! I can go on a very long rant about dreams and how they relate to your subconscious and etc, but I’ll just keep it related to your creativity 🙂 Everyone dreams, even if you claim you didn’t; it’s a part of the sleep cycle. In these dreams they can illuminate your deepest desires, your biggest fears, your most intense stressors, or even something awe-inspiring. Of course a majority of your dreams revolve around the emotion of stress, but even in that stress you can get inspiration. For example: the other night I had a pretty interesting dream. I was running throughout this mall I just went to a few days ago, but that point doesn’t really matter. There were all of these fights going on around me, with characters from the book I’m writing as well as from other books (such as Twilight–weirdly–Hunger Games, and randomly White Fang. I think my mind was obsessed with wolves that night). Anyway, I had this interesting power in my grasp: if I was to partake in one of these fights I’m running by from actual events from the plot, then I’d be able to change the course of events. Basically like time traveling, except everything crazy is going on at once, and these past events are attacking you too, which can make it very difficult not to engage them. See? Creative yet intriguing kind of plot to work with!

I’ve also dreamt of some pretty twisted stuff that I won’t go into too much detail about. Actually, no, let me scare you a bit. So I was in my house, and this demon was trying to hunt me down (usual thing in my dreams, oddly). I was hiding in my dad’s room (my dad and sis were there), and this other girl and boy were there that have been in my dreams before. I was asking the boy (who was a ghost) as to where the demon is, and he paused for a moment before quietly pointing in the corner of the room. He looked at me, scared himself, and whispered, “He’s very angry.”

This black fog started to contort and twist in the corner, but it never fully developed into a person. Instead it creeped over to me, naturally I backed up as far as possible, and instead it went into the young girl. She gagged and writhed for a moment, and she squealed before stopping completely. Of course I just had to see if she was okay, so I called her name (forgot what it was in my dream), and she gasped in a gurgle before piercing her black eyes on me. Creeeek!  Every single disc in her spine started snapping until she was bent so far backward, the back of her skull was touching her ankles, and she kept her eyes on me as she snapped her jaw open. Her lower jaw reached the bottom of her neck, the upper tearing through her nose until her teeth were almost touching her eyes, and right when she started crawling toward me in that distorted image, I woke up.

Cool image for a scary story, isn’t it? Yeah, I still shudder from it.

It’s pretty amazing–and creepy–what your mind can create when you’re asleep. Some pretty awesome inspiration can come to you in your dreams.

7. Other books/poems

infodata

How else can you learn to write if you don’t know what style you enjoy? Or what genre? I personally get a good amount of inspiration from other authors because I aspire to be like them. Well, at least a good chunk of them 🙂

From other authors you can get inspiration for writing style, overall plot, character traits, and even structure. For example, I got inspired to write a short story of mine in letter format because of reading “Perks of Being a Wallflower” where every chapter is a new letter. There’s also “Dracula” that’s structured with journal entries and letters. It’s an interesting approach.

For writing style, my personal favorite is James Patterson with his Maximum Ride series. Max’s humor in her narration and side commentary really inspired me to make my own narrator the same way; it really connects the audience to the narrator on a more personal level.

There’s a lot of really good authors out there, and it’s pretty easy to get inspired from how well some of them can write. Down to descriptions as well with things I would never think of, like how Nicholas Sparks describes love in so many of their books. Amazing.

8. Places we go

Beach_by_jkurl11

(thanks to jkurl11 for the beautiful photo)

The places we go can create unique moods in us that we wouldn’t otherwise find on a normal basis. The beach, for me, is my biggest source of inspiration, and next in line is the forest. You’ll find in my books that these two settings are very prominent in the plotline, especially when it comes to the symbolism of the beach.

On a personal note, the beach has always been one of my most blissful places to go. My mother, rest in peace, really enjoyed the beach as well and always wanted me to walk along the shore to feel the water on my toes. I always rejected it because of the seaweed–yuck–but now I gladly walk along the water since it feels so wonderful, but also so I can feel that much closer to my mother. Beach is peace, zen, and bliss; nothing can compare to such a place. So, when I’m there, I can write a lot. When I look out at the water and see nothing but the horizon, I can see the vast expanse and realize how small I am, and that my problems can’t really be that big. I’m just one person. Yet this one person can also create a wonderful story that others can enjoy, and that’s immortal. That in itself is amazingly inspiring.

Go out and find that one place that really inspires you, where you feel your head clear of anything negative, and all the wonderful, precious things in your head really sprout. If you stay at home your mind is more restricted, and therefore your characters will most likely be restrained as well.

9. Art

peeta_the_painter_by_friedchicken365-d4gjyd5

(thanks to friedChicken365 for this drawing of Peeta from The Hunger Games. Love!)

I can’t count how many times I’ve wanted to take a person from a piece of artwork and create their story. It’s amazing what artists can put on a canvas or on paper, such as the intensity of expressions, or the abstract conscious of the mind. This, in turn, can inspire us to wrap a story around that artwork, or add that trait to a character of our own.

For example, I ran across this piece of art (I wish I could find it for everyone to understand the reference), and it was of a woman up in the clouds stretching her arm down to a man down below in chains. Her expression wasn’t peaceful, rather contorted in fear, and the man down below looked desperate for her help. Powerful image. This made me want to create my own. So, I did. In the first book of my series there’s a scene where Hayden is badly wounded, yet she squirms free in order to fly down to Aryc who’s even worse off than her, and he’s trying to outfly this bomb that’s about to get him. She’s desperate, pleading, to get to him with arm outstretched, and their fingertips barely touch by the end of that chapter. That piece of art just won’t get out of my head!

You can also be inspired to have your character be an artist (such as Peeta from the Hunger Games), or in general have art in your story. I know I do! Adding creative people to your story can, in turn, make you more creative yourself. It’s like you have to be two times more creative to create this creative person in your creative process of creativity. Mind blown 😀

10. School

Confined_by_school_by_michellemonique

(thanks to michellemonique for this fabulous photo!)

Her school looks pretty interesting, doesn’t it? Whoa there…

Anyway 🙂 whether you like it or not, you get inspiration from school. Deal with it. In fact, it wraps all of these sources of inspiration together! You meet people there, read all sorts of books, discover who you are as a person, take classes with different subjects, etc. Education makes your brain happy, a happy brain gets inspiration and creative, and therefore school=inspiration. I feel like that’s a faulty conclusion my debate teacher would get upset with me about because of a generalization, but just roll with it, please.

In school you get introduced to many different writers, even though I know some of them you don’t enjoy. Then there’s those books you can’t ever get away from–in a good way–which for me are “Lord of the Flies” and “Pride and Prejudice.” Ah! Love them! Analyzing these works in school get your brain ticking that much more in-depth, and in turn can help you create a story of your own.

You’re also surrounded by drama (curse it into flames), interesting people, and new aspects of perception. How can you not be inspired by all of these things surrounding you? It’s amazing!

inspiration_by_zzanthia-d5mof9g (thanks to Zzanthia for the artwork. Amazing!)

So, that’s the jist of where we authors get our inspiration. It’s in the most obvious of places, but it’s up to our matter of imagination to dissect all that’s around us and make it into something amazing. Get inspired, get creative, and always write toward that light of wonder.

Keep on getting inspired, and keep on writing!

-S. K. Robitaille

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2 comments on “Where Does an Author Get Inspiration?

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