Tag Archives: inspiration

Authors Answer 137 – Unusual Writing Inspirations

Authors’ ideas don’t just pop in their minds from nowhere. Something has to inspire them. It could be a person, a scene, an event, a song, anything. Many of these inspirations are quite ordinary. But sometimes, they can be pretty strange.

Question 137 – What was one of the most unusual writing inspirations that sparked a story idea?

H. Anthe Davis

A couple years ago, I wrote a rather large short story (short novella?) based on an idea of very boring vampires. Urban vampire fantasy is always so seduction/violence/whatever-based, and I just don’t like it…but I played several years of Vampire: The Masquerade with friends, so had ideas of other ways to write it. Which is how I ended up with a story about a vampire accountant who finds himself rescued from a vampire-on-vampire conflict over his just-destroyed clan’s wealth and resources by a glam Jewish vampire-hunter and her werewolf musician boyfriend. I really should edit and post it some day.

Paul B. Spence

Er… I’m sorry, that’s classified. I suppose that my more recent inspirations have been songs, for the most part. Sometimes dreams. Sometimes I’m just driving down the road and hear the scenes in my head. Strange, I know. I used to tell myself stories as a child, before I could read. The Remnant is based in part on a childhood story over forty years old at this point. I was a strange and disturbed child.

Jean Davis

Well, it’s not all that unusual, I suppose, but it’s been a long time coming, so I’m going with it. About twenty-five years ago, I ended up in a discussion about where god might come from while serving a customer a drink in the restaurant where I worked at the time. I’ve been mulling those ideas around ever since, and they served as inspiration for The Last God, which was just released this month.

D. T. Nova

I wrote a short-short based on an unusual search term from my blog.

Beth Aman

This one is quite funny. I was on an international flight​, tired and bored, when I looked across the aisle and saw a most peculiar man. He was dressed in a black suit that looked to be about a hundred years old, and the man himself looked to be at least a hundred and twenty. He wore a top hat and carried an old briefcase and a cane,​ and he had a long, hooked nose. He instantly became a character, and his briefcase became a method of smuggling magical artifacts. He​ was the beginning of a new novel, which is my current WIP.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I get a lot of writing inspiration from other peoples’ media (books, video games, movies, TV shows) and also from the insanity that is my dreams, all of which is fairly standard practice, I’d say. However, one of my current works in progress was inspired by a deep, relentless hatred for one of the upper-management bosses at my last job. I’m pretty sure literally everyone else on the crew hated this guy with a passion. Well one day he did something to me specifically that just enraged me beyond the telling of it, and the next thing I knew I was three chapters deep into my second zombie novel, purely because I wanted an excuse to have him torn limb from limb in prose form. A little psychotic? Perhaps. But aren’t all writers at least a little insane?

Elizabeth Rhodes

Still not uncommon? Fair enough. I once saw a design someone made of a fantasy dress with armor and raven feathers. It got me thinking of what kind of royalty or nobility would wear such a dress, which led to creating the culture of an entire fantasy civilization. All from a dress.

C E Aylett

A home made postcard on a website. The picture was of six different locks of hair and on it was written: After they fall asleep, I cut the hair from the kids I babysit. All the people in the website’s forum were saying how creepy it was and I wanted to make it un-creepy, that it was more a cry of loneliness than anything else. It produced one of my strongest pieces, though also one of my saddest and maybe even most controversial. And people who critiqued it all said it was creepy, so that was a massive fail in that sense, though the story is really strong. Oh, didn’t I say the other week I couldn’t think of a writing failure? There you go. There’s one: I failed to un-creep the creepy. But it taught me a massive lesson in setting narrative tone. I still haven’t found anywhere that will publish it, even though it often gets serious consideration.

The postcard also inspired me to write a poem about a woman who was grieving the loss of a child, but that stays in the drawer along with the rest of my poems.

Gregory S. Close

I get a lot of ideas from history and non-fiction, but the inspiration for Greyspace was pretty fun, unintentional and off-the-wall. I was in an online Science Fiction writers workshop/class with the full intent of revising and publishing an old story about the fun and consequences of relativistic travel and leap-frogging technology, but the instructor told us that he wanted to see three writing ideas. So, I added the idea I fully intended to develop, a second idea about nano-bots, and the third, which I just threw in there so I could submit it on time, was basically a joke about spaceships that couldn’t achieve Faster Than Light travel through scientific methods, but instead had to rely on a sorcerer to get them through Hyperspace. “What if instead of Scotty in the Engine Room, you had Merlin.” And that ended up being the idea we both liked the most.

Eric Wood

I wrote a story about my childhood stuffed animal (which I still have, by the way). Though the little boy in story wasn’t me. Perhaps his imagination was. Barnaby and his boy were in the grocery store with Mom and got lost. While there they took a trip around the world.

Jay Dee Archer

I have a children’s book idea that began as a single sentence that my daughter said about two years ago. It has to do with dinosaurs, everyday life, and a child’s creative imagination. Maybe it’s not a very unusual inspiration, but

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A Bit of Inspiration from InspiroBot!

I love this site! Ever heard of InspiroBot? It’s a website that uses an AI to create inspirational quotes along with pictures that may or may not be appropriate. I played around with it for a while. I wanted to see if I could get some literary quotes, and I wasn’t disappointed. I got two!

Wanna get crazy? These are the other ones that I saved. They can get pretty bizarre.

Which one was your favourite? Let me know in the comments below. Also, did you find some interesting ones on the website?

When Reading Pushes Me to Write

There are times when a book makes me want to write. Other times, reading gives me little or no inspiration. I’m in the former state at the moment.

For some reason, The Wheel of Time inspires me. The colourful and well-developed characters, the wonderful worldbuilding, and the entertaining story help put me in a creative mood.

On the other hand, The Iliad did the opposite. The characters were like caricatures, very unrealistic, and incredibly melodramatic. The narration (although it was a poem) was adjective-heavy, incredibly repetitive, and the dialogue was completely unnatural. It was difficult to read, and it dulled my creativity. My coming review of the book will say something similar, but I did like it.

Even though I’ve said I wouldn’t be doing much in the way of writing for Ariadne until after we’ve moved to Canada, I have a very strong itch to write. Maybe I can use this opportunity to do some critiquing. Or maybe do some outlining. Or maybe do some more worldbuilding. Maybe all of them. We’ll see.

Do some books inspire you to write, while others do the opposite? Let me know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 45 – Real World Influences in Fiction

When drawing influence for books, authors look in many places. They may get ideas from around them, from people they know, or from history. Today is the fourteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center in New York. Events like this could have a big influence on writing.

Twin_Towers-NYCQuestion 45: It’s the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. How much do major world events influence your writing?

Linda G. Hill

I try not to state the date in my writing unless it’s necessary, so there aren’t many world events that actually make it into my novels. But from a politically correct, I suppose you could say, standpoint there has to be some sensitivity to such things. I guess you could say they don’t affect my writing in a direct way, but indirectly I find myself watching what I write.

Allen Tiffany

They certainly influence the fabric of our lives, but I don’t perceive that they have materially impacted my writing. It feels to me that core themes of loyalty, loneliness, belief, love, hope, friendship, loss, etc., are bigger, more powerful and longer lasting than a single event no matter how shocking or traumatic it may be in its time.

Gregory S. Close

Yes, in two distinct ways.

1) As a human being, I am very distracted and involved in world events and human suffering.  Columbine, the 2004 Tsunami, Fukushima, 9/11…  any or all of them can throw me into a bit of a fugue.  I can dwell on it, generally not productively, and run the narratives through my head over and over trying to figure out how it happened, how it could have been prevented, what I would have done in situation A or B if I had been there, or if my wife or children or mother or brother were impacted.

That naturally leads to…

2) As a writer, building characters and situations within a story is certainly influenced by observing the world.  Both historic and current events can feed into the creative process.

D. T. Nova

A fair bit. The main reason I won’t change my first novel to be set in the year it’s published instead of the year I started writing it is because parts near the beginning involve references to then-current or recent events. (It’s likely to diverge into alternate history if I reference any real-life events in any potential sequel.)

I have a character who’s indirectly named after a controversial figure, a character who’s the religion he is because of what a certain organization has become defined by (though I don’t use the real organization itself in a fictional way), and due to the coincidence of a character’s birthday falling on the date of a certain real-life protest I even have characters participating in that.

Paul B. Spence

Most of my writing, not at all. My contemporary stuff, a lot.

Caren Rich

It’s not necessarily world events as much as national and regional events. Famous hurricanes, the Deep Water oil spill, and the Great Recession have all played a part in my writing. I think if you want your writing to be believable, you have to pull in “real” events. Those events don’t necessarily have to be the center of your plot, but I think it makes reading more interesting.

Jean Davis

While I don’t copy any real world events in my writing, I do draw upon the real evils of mankind when working on antagonists. Sadly, real people are often capable of doing worse things than the stuff I imagine.

S. R. Carrillo

I have no idea how to answer this question. 6_6 I suppose not.

H. Anthe Davis

I look back a lot on history for inspiration — for characters and themes as much as for events.  Since my work doesn’t involve the real world, though, I try not to be too affected by current issues; I have no interest in being ‘topical’.  That said, sometimes a real-world situation will illuminate something that must have happened in my own world’s history, so it will prompt me to fill out more of my backstory with my world’s reaction to a similar event.  Since you mentioned the WTC attack, though, I will admit that one of my major characters is basically a terrorist, but I conceptualized him that way back in ’93.

Eric Wood

This an awesome question. As I sit here and ponder this one, I attempt to make the connection between my writing and worldly events. I have a great respect for all those involved with the attacks in 2001. I was in university approximately 40 miles from the the plane that crashed near Shanksville, PA and was scheduled to teach a freshman orientation class that morning. But to connect that (an other events) to my writing is difficult. I suppose there’s no direct connection. Though perhaps I become more aware of what I’m writing and how it could affect the children who read my stories.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

World events do affect my writing, but mostly just in an emotional way. For instance, after a huge, horrible event like September 11th my writing will inevitably take on a somber and depressing tone. If there’s a big scandal in politics I might find myself creating corrupt authority figure characters. If there’s a mysterious tragedy, like the disappearance of a plane, then I might find myself drawn to writing about strange, supernatural occurrences. Basically, world events affect my mood and the way I feel about certain subjects, and as a result my writing is affected as well.

Elizabeth Rhodes

They don’t have a direct impact, but the influence is still there.  I don’t reference specific events, but certain movements and mentalities have influenced scenarios in my writing.  My interest in end of the world scenarios stem from a pessimism with current society that I think is common among a lot of people.  The 99% movement and working in service jobs influenced the plots of a few other stories of mine, but they aren’t fully fleshed out yet.

Jay Dee Archer

In my science fiction writing, there is some influence. I do draw on real predictions of the effects of climate change on Earth to create the future conditions that are present in the world. I have also used events in world history to create similar events in the future. But I think that it’s not so much the actual events that happen, but the way that people behave that influences me.

As for fantasy, I don’t use any real world events, and any events that happen in my story have very little resemblance to anything real, but human behaviour is what I get from real events. I think that’s the most important thing I draw from them.

How about you?

If you write, are you influenced by real world events? If you don’t write, do you like to see world events in novels? Let us know in the comments below.

Authors Answer 19 – Writing Beginnings

We all start somewhere.  Anyone who does anything gets an initial inspiration to do whatever it is they do.  Writers are no exception.  What exactly is it that makes people want to write what they write?  What makes us pick up a pen (or put fingers on a keyboard) and write? This week’s question comes from our very own H. Anthe Davis.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 19: How did you get into writing and what made you select your genre of choice?

Linda G. Hill

I actually don’t feel as though I had a choice in either getting into writing or choosing a genre. I’ve been making up stories since Kindergarten – I remember writing a “book” at my mother’s friend’s dining room table and driving them both crazy because the only words I knew how to spell were “the” and “and.” I’ve been doing it ever since. Same with genre… It doesn’t matter what I start or what my intentions begin as. Since I don’t plot a story (or when I do it’s very loose and only in my head), my works tend to take on a life of their own and inevitably turn to something dark… or at least shades of gray and often end in a twist that not even I was expecting.

Paul B. Spence

I’ve always been a storyteller.  My genre of choice?  What genre is that?  In all seriousness, I write what I like to read.

Caren Rich

It started in the 7th grade with my English teacher.  We had to write poetry. Nothing I wrote was great, but it showed me that I had something to say and it gave me a way to say it. In College, I wrote a short story for my niece when she was born. Throughout life moments and changes, writing has provided an outlet, a way to express myself.  For the most part they were unread and contained in a cardboard box, they were practice. Now, I write short fiction and mystery novels based on life in the South. Why? Because I love the South. The South is full of quirky characters and odd customs. The swamps and bayous that run like ribbons through the area are the perfect places to commit a murder.  Yes, murder.  I’m a Southern Baptist who drinks way too much caffeine and dreams up ways to kill characters off.

D. T. Nova

I’ve had ideas for stories for as long as I can remember, and back in school I had a teacher that encouraged me to write, and yet I didn’t really get serious about it until much later. I suppose that you could just say I realized one day that I could really do it. Sorry I don’t have a better answer.

Pretty much all my ideas have been science fiction or fantasy of some sort, so what genre I’d write is nothing I ever needed to put much thought into.

Elizabeth Rhodes

It’s difficult to pin down.  I’ve held an interest in writing stories for as long as I can remember, but didn’t make any serious effort to do so until I was in high school.  It started with co-authoring stories with a friend of mine, starting with the basic details of a fledgling character and winging it.  After a few of those I worked up the courage to write something of my own.

I picked the genres I preferred to read or watch.  I started with crime, mainly because my favoriteTV show at the time was Law & Order.  But when that crime novel started to develop more fantastic elements, I explored fantasy and science fiction more.  I haven’t looked back since.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I got into writing at a young age, after we had a little creative writing assignment at school in the third grade. I was already a big reader at that point, and I really enjoyed creating my own story for a change. Around this time was also when I had first met my best friend, and she enjoyed making up stories as well, so we used to write stories featuring ourselves and our friends and then swap and read. We did this for years, until we eventually started writing more “professional” stuff (i.e. not using ourselves as characters), as well as a lot of fan-fiction (I was big into Star Wars at the time so I wrote lots of stories featuring Luke).

There were times when it seemed like all I did was write, and times when I got distracted by other things and  went months without putting a single word to paper, but my desire to write definitely never faded. It followed me through high school and college, and when school was finally over and I found myself out into the work world, it followed me there as well.

My genre of choice? Well it’s not one specific genre…I’m all about speculative fiction. I like horror, supernatural, and fantasy worlds – all that stuff that is partially grounded in reality, but is full of outrageous unreality. I love the scary thoughts that keep us up at night, the daydreams of other worlds and grand adventures. I love the genres that allow us to imagine that the world could be somewhat more than what it is. When I was a kid that was the kind of stuff I loved to read, the kind of stuff I loved to watch on TV or absorb via video games, so it only makes sense that these are the genres that I would love to write in as an adult.

Jean Davis

Early in life, I’d say it was my third grade teacher who pushed me to write. As far as getting serious about writing, I stumbled upon NaNoWriMo on a forum where I’d been writing fan fiction. After my first NaNo, where I wrote my second novel in thirty days rather than the many years it had taken for the first, I stuck around the forums and met my first critique partner. That led to learning about editing and querying, and finding many more critique partners that  eventually resulted writing that didn’t suck.

When I started writing more seriously, I was writing westerns and sci-fi. While I love a good western,  I found my stride in what I read, meaning all things speculative.

Amy Morris-Jones

I started writing when I was young to entertain my classmates. All of my stories had my friends as characters. Then, as school demands increased, I quit writing. It wasn’t until a few years ago when my husband was working on his own novel, that I decided I’d churn something I’d been turning around in my head onto paper. I didn’t realize I was writing a novel until I was a good 50,000 words in. At that point, I was committed—and hooked!

S. R. Carrillo

Ha! I got into writing because I was born with breath in my lungs, and I haven’t looked back ever since. My genre, though? I mostly just got sick of never seeing the dark, violent, sexual, queer, colorful sides of stories. I got sick of watching straight white men fall in love with straight white women *all the damned time, everywhere*. So I wrote outside of that, and I guess I landed in whatever genre it is that I landed on.

H. Anthe Davis

I started writing at a young age, mostly in those little blue test books they used to give you in elementary schools for writing essays.  Maybe on some level I was dissatisfied with my books and wanted to write things I considered more interesting, because the first story I can remember writing was about a princess’s handmaiden, who was a lot smarter than the princess.  Royalty was never my thing.  As for my genre (fantasy and sci-fi), I got that from my mother, who got that from her father.  According to my mom, she started giving me Dragonlance novels when I was eight.  I picked up a later love of horror possibly because New England (where I lived as a kid) is a spooky sort of place, and I read a lot of ghost stories and watched a lot of Unsolved Mysteries and then started reading Stephen King, et cetera…  It grew from there.

Jay Dee Archer

I got started in a rather unusual way.  I wasn’t into fiction at all when I was a kid, but I loved science books and encyclopedias.  I started transcribing some of the encyclopedia entries onto paper.  That’s right, I was copying the encyclopedia.  It moved on to creating my own material to make presentations about different countries.  I had a bulletin board in my bedroom and started off with Afghanistan, writing about the history, the people, and so on.

My first experience writing fiction wasn’t until high school, and my chosen genre was science fiction.  It was basically like a scene from Armageddon, though I’d written it several years before the movie came out.  But it wasn’t until university that I decided I really wanted to write.  That’s when I created Ariadne.  I had a story in my head to go with the world, and that story is still in my head waiting to come out.  With this world, I wanted to mix science fiction and fantasy, though the fantasy elements have become more scientific.  I also enjoy writing fantasy, though haven’t finished anything.  I’ve begun a couple books and intend on going back to them in the future.  The reason I chose speculative fiction is that I love creating worlds where I can use my imagination.

How about you?

If you are a writer, how did you get started, and why did you choose the genre you write in?  Leave your answers in the comments below.

I Am One, but Have Been Many

I may be one person, but through fiction, I have lived many lives.

I have been many people.  I have been born, grown up, struggled, triumphed, and died.  I don’t know how many times I have died, I’ve lost count. I’ve been a child, I’ve been a teenager, I’ve been an adult, I’ve been elderly.  I’ve gone through life’s stages many times.  I’ve been many men, I’ve been many women.  I’ve been human, elf, dwarf, alien, and wolf.  I’ve been a warrior.  I’ve been a scientist.  I’ve been an adventurer.  I’ve been a wizard, a witch, an assassin, a thief.  I’ve been a hero.  I’ve gone through tragedy.  I’ve lost loved ones, and I’ve lost myself.

I’ve been to many places on Earth.  I’ve been to the Moon, Mars, Europa, Ganymede, and Iapetus.  I’ve been to other stars.  I’ve been to other worlds uncharted.  I’ve been to the future, the past, and the present.  I’ve ridden a dragon, piloted a starship, and flown a broom.  I’ve cast spells, fired guns, and drawn a sword.  I’ve been handsome, beautiful, ugly, and ordinary.  I’ve been stabbed, shot, and poisoned.  I’ve gone through anguish, ecstasy, and blind rage.

I’ve seen life through different eyes.  I’ve become different people.  That’s what reading fiction does.  It gives you experiences you can never have in reality.  It expands your horizons, gives you new ideas, and opens your mind to other ways of thought.  It enriches you and makes you a better person.  I couldn’t live without reading.  It’s a wonderful way to inspire.  I wish everyone could experience that.

Pick up a book and read.  Your mind will thank you.


This was inspired by this wonderful post by RamblingAnt.  Go on over there and tell him what you think.  Share with us what reading means to you.  The comments below are open for your thoughts.

LLAP – Live Long and Prosper

20150301-215813-79093362.jpg

After reading all the tributes to Leonard Nimoy, I have come to see how beloved he was.  He inspired countless people.  He wasn’t just Spock, but a humanitarian, an advocate for women’s rights, and an all around incredible person.

His last Tweet was quite moving.

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP

Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy)

He ended his Tweets with LLAP, Live Long and Prosper.  I hope his memory in all of us lives long and prospers.

I remember watching Star Trek in the 1980s, and becoming a big fan after Star Trek: The Next Generation began.  I watched all the old episodes of the original series, and Spock was always my favourite.  He was logical, intelligent, and a scientist.  I loved science, and he was an inspiration to me.  I will never forget the scene of Spock’s death in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  It was the most moving and saddest moment in all of Trek.

I understand that there was a memorial on Vulcan in Star Trek Online.  I’ve played the game briefly, but never found the time to continue.  Wish I could’ve been there.  It must have been quite the event.

Many people will miss Leonard Nimoy.  I will.  I wish I’d met him.  I’d had the privilege of meeting James Doohan when I was in high school at a Star Trek convention.  I wish I could meet all the actors.

Everyone who’s reading this, I hope you LLAP.

Live Long and Prosper.

Spock