Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Finding Inspiration from the Present

Writer Wednesday

We previously talked about finding inspiration from your past.  This may have been childhood friends, or vacations you took, or a teacher you had in grade school.  This week, we're going to look at ways to find inspiration from the world around you.

Most writers at one time or another struggle with ideas for their next article or work of fiction.  So where can you find inspiration for a story idea?  Look around you.

·         Books – this may seem like plagiarism, but you shouldn't take the same story and re-tell it.  Take a nugget from the story and put your own twist on it.  For example, Beauty and the Beast is a classic tale.  But what if Beauty were the hero, and the beast was the heroine?  And what if you created a fantasy world around these two characters?  Same premise, new story.

·         Overheard dialog – listen in on a conversation (heaven knows there are enough people using their phones in public places) then create a story around what you heard. 

·         Magazines – How many times have you read an article in a magazine and been touched by the story.  Create your own characters and re-write the article into a piece of fiction.  I don't suggest using a true story that was widely publicized, however, because of the legal ramifications.  Take the nugget of an idea and change a few facts, like ages of the characters, or location and time of year.

·         Art – Have you ever gazed at a painting and wondered about the story behind the subject, or even the artist?  How many have speculated over Mona Lisa's smile?  How about the farmer and his wife in American Gothic?  Create your own story for these people.

·         Dreams – I have trouble remembering most of my dreams.  But every so often, one sticks with me because it is so vivid.  And some of those have turned into stories.  Try recreating one of your dreams.

·         Songs – Listen closely to the lyrics of songs.  Create a story around those lyrics.  Or just use the title as inspiration. 

·         Quotes – Some quotes stick with us forever, and possibly even change our lives.  One of my favorites is from James Dean.  "Dream as if you'll live forever.  Live as if you'll die today."  Create a character whose life is transformed by this quote.

What quote do you find inspirational?

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