Inspiration - where does yours come from?

Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mercy, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Can you do a quick outline of what's in your mind right now? I often do that with scenes that feel really vivid to me but that it's not time to write yet (b/c I write from start to finish).

    Like, if I know two characters are going to have a fight, I'll write something like:

    When M and F meet up after whatever splits them up, they're mad and M throws something about F's history at her, and she says, "Of course. I forgot who I was dealing with. You never make a mistake, do you?" beat of some sort "But maybe that's because you never do anything. You just sit there being perfect, and passive, and you're scared to actually try anything in case it doesn't work out." He comes back with something defensive, she references his sister, they leave still angry.
    I can't do it for every scene because I have no idea what all the scenes are, but when something's really vivid in my mind, I type it up and use it (or not) when I get to it.

    Could you do the same for some of the things you're worried about losing, and then have them there to use (or not) when you come back to it?
     
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  2. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    I typically do that for... well, pretty much everything. lol I outline my stories in that way so that I never forget specific scenes.

    I think what I really need to do if just finish outlining the second draft of Desolate. If I can get it down, then I won't be so afraid to forget things if I move to a different story. Then I can let my inspiration take me wherever it wants!
     
  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Part of me wants to say don't go back to Golems, it's a trick to derail your progress! cause I've been there, I've got a project that's been hanging onto me since I was fourteen that likes to play buttinski during every major project. But every writer is different so who knows - only you know what is going to work best for you. So if you feel that it would work out - go for it.
    Usually if I have ideas for my old project that won't wait - I just write them out with a date to make sure I won't loose my most up-to-date thoughts on it. But I've decided to wait until I have a few successes before returning to it. Mainly cause it's such a huge project.
     
  4. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    I think many of us- definitely me and definitely you- need to find a balance between what we want to accomplish and what we need to do to get anything at all accomplished. Do whatever it takes to get a novel, that you think can be published, fully written. That should be your goal.
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    With all due respect to your husband, who is probably only trying to help, his opinion doesn't matter on this issue. He's not the one doing the writing. There are lots of writers who work on more than one project at once, simply because they find it works for them to switch back and forth between projects if the one they're working on stalls.

    I would worry if you kept starting umpteen projects and never finished any of them, but as long as you've only got these two on the go, I'd say do what you want. This is your hobby and your husband's opinion doesn't need to be sought or followed.

    If you simply want to enjoy writing and don't care about publication, you don't actually ever have to finish any of them! If you do want to finish and maybe get published, you will need to finish at some stage. But it's all up to you—at least until you get landed with a contract to a publisher. I'd say follow your inspiration, or at least give that method a try.

    Maybe also try keeping what you're working on to yourself? That way no one will be judging you, or will find out that you're switching between several projects. Just say you'll show them the work when/if you're ready to, and that's it.
     
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  6. sprirj

    sprirj Senior Member

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    I suffer from this and I may try out new projects, but I always go back to my main project.
     
  7. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    My longest completed story is a Doctor Who fanfic (for free here as I will never make any money off of it), but in addition to the obvious...

    1) Joss Whedon

    Joss Whedon will always be the television writer that ruined me for Lowest Common Denominator procedurals, the writer who taught me how to balance short-term episodic stories with long-term seasonal development, the writer who showed me that main characters should be allowed to die if the story would weaken by keeping them alive, and (keeping in mind that I am the most prudish person that I have ever met in my life) the first writer who ever made me laugh at sex jokes (except when I needed my younger brother to explain a lot of them, that tended to kill the humor pretty quickly).

    I also did not plan on doing this when I first started my Doctor Who story, but in hindsight Joss Whedon also did a great deal to show me how a group of friends could work together against obstacles even when one is significantly more powerful and you would not expect the others to be able to contribute at her level.

    2) Orson Scott Card

    I didn't bother reading the Ender books until my father e-mailed me this article by a guy who had loved Ender's Game as a teenager because he'd grown up surrounded by Islamophobia, empathized with Ender's isolation, was amazed to see a Muslim character in the book who reflected reality rather than being a "MUZLIMZ IZ EVUL" stereotype, and yet was horrified to learn as an adult that Card was an active homophobe who had somehow missed the point of his own books that tolerance and diversity were more important than dogma and conformity.

    I was (and still am) a Christian who hated (and still hates) Islamophobia despite having never been bullied for my religion myself, and I was (and still am) an asexual who hated (and still hates) homophobia despite only barely being bullied for my orientation. And when I decided that two of the characters in my story would be extremely religious, I had just taken it for granted that being religious meant that they would be Christians. Didn't cross (haha) my mind once that there were other people in the world that I could try writing about.

    Reading this article made me sick to my stomach that a bigot like Card was treating other religions better in his book than I was planning to in mine. I changed one of my two Christian characters to a Muslim and spent months learning as much as possible about how she would be different from how I'd originally envisioned her.

    The story became so much better for it, and I will never give weight to somebody who may tell me upon learning this "Well you should've written about two Christians if that's what you thought you wanted to write about the first time!"

    Fun fact: the Muslim girl became my main character :D My story is 63k words split between 5 POVs, and the Muslim girl gets the most internal screen-time with 20k words written from her perspective while the Christian guy has the least internal screen-time at 7k.

    3) Rich Burlew

    Oh, Belkar Bitterleaf. Whoever else could've shown me how much more beautiful the challenge can be for the heroes to save the world when they have to spend half of their time keeping their best friend / pet serial killer from rampaging out of control :twisted:

    Other works hat I'd loved had shown the Token Evil Teammate dynamic (Hero Protagonists and a Villain Protagonist working together against Villain Antagonists) in exciting and creative ways, primarily Spike and Jayne from the Whedonverse, but Rich Burlew's look at the myriad problems that Belkar's Chaotic Evilness caused for the Order of the Stick inspired me to see how that dynamic might be different in my story where the villain is the one in charge of the heroes for a change.

    4) Dr Abraham Maslow :D

    And of course I've talked extensively on this site about how much I love making alien psychology different from human psychology by re-arranging Maslow's Hierarchy ;)

    Now my horror stories owe far more to HP Lovecraft, but I haven't noticed him having much influence in the action/adventure sci-fi that I've spent most of my writing time writing for.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
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  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I wouldn't ask permission unless you're actually prepared to not go ahead if permission isn't granted.

    If you ask and aren't granted permission and then go ahead anyway, you've called the original author's attention to something that s/he will be upset by, and I don't think that's an appropriate way to thank someone whose work has been valuable to you.
     
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  9. RachHP

    RachHP Senior Member

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    @Simpson17866 Thanks for commenting. Intriguing insights into your own development as a writer. I haven't sat and considered the specific influences writers have had on my own attitudes/works but seeing yours has made me start to wonder.

    @BayView A great point. Ultimately, I haven't started the work this thread is related to for that very reason. Until I muster the courage to write to her, I don't think I have the right to take the idea forward.
    Glad you're keeping me honest, though :)
    Thanks

    Rach
     
  10. Fawky

    Fawky Member

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    At this point it's really about personal preference. Yes, you took inspiration from someone and you'd have to consider to what extent the inspiration reaches your story and whether it's actually nessecary to contact the author and ask permission. Regardless, it's really about how you personally feel about it and your own conscience.

    For me, if someone were to get inspiration from my work I'd be happy about it without credit as long as they don't blatantly plagarize it etc, as a writing community we gotta stay tight eh?
     
  11. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    If it helps, I've been sharing bits and pieces of my story's background here and there for the last ...

    Oh wow it just hit me that I started writing this in (checks Microsoft Word) July 16, 2013 and I spent 2 and 2/3 years working on it before I finished. That doesn't feel real to me

    ... moving right along, I found that getting a few pieces out there (a line of dialogue, a character description, a passage of backstory that didn't make it into the actual narrative, my method for xenopsychology) and people noticing motivated me to finish so that I wouldn't let my interested audience down after I'd gotten them hooked.

    Do you like Doctor Who by any chance?
     
  12. RachHP

    RachHP Senior Member

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    @Fawky Couldn't have put it better myself. Being a writer is a bit like being in a gang - except instead of beating up people in real life, we round them up into our narrative and do our worst... :p

    @Simpson17866 It goes fast, doesn't it!
    That's a good method to stay motivated, actually. One to keep in the back pocket :)

    Well, I'm English, so... Dr Who? Yes, of course. It's genius! A work of marvels!
    *checks over shoulder*
    *leans in*
    *whispers*
    Meh. It's okay. I can appreciate some of the story elements but it's not really my thing. I'm more of an American sitcom kinda girl (but ssh, I'll get digestives thrown at me on the street if anyone finds out)
     
  13. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributor Contributor

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    I hope you guys don't mind me necrobumping. Can't resist. Such a tempting topic.

    A lot of things inspire me, but only one I really way to say right now.

    @Nicoel <G>
     
  14. Amy Brahams

    Amy Brahams New Member

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    I do believe that it is fine to move ahead without seeking permission.
     
  15. Mic dm

    Mic dm New Member

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    First time poster. I have loved reading here and have learned a lot. Thank you all for that. I got this idea from an old posting here. If have encroached in any way on anybody's WIP, I apologize. I can't even name the OP, to give credit. I am not interested in the plot or story. It was only the emotion of a single moment that intrigued me. I would like to know if this is a good example of showing rather than telling, but more importantly, did I capture the emotion of a combination of extreme dread and extreme hope at the same time? This was just a little exercise for me. As I said, I'm not interested in this story, so if anybody wants to take this and run with it, please do. This moment could lead anywhere, unless its crap, but even then, it might lead somebody somewhere lol.

    Was it a dragon, preparing to turn Michael’s greatest wish to ashes with its fiery breath, or was it a cereal box, with an exquisite treasure waiting at the bottom? He only had to reach his trembling hand inside to learn the answer. Stretching out his arm, Michael hesitated as he imagined a yellow-eyed monster snapping at his fingers. A biting gust of frigid air stirred him to action. Michael tossed the lid up; the cold aluminum cracked against the wooden slats. Snatching the letter before the gaping maw clamped down, he dashed into the house to learn his fate in warmth and comfort.
     
  16. Mic dm

    Mic dm New Member

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    I should credit where i got the idea from, I went back and searched til I found it again. I got the idea from a post called 'The Opening Paragraph' by zerobytes. I would link to it but I don't know how to do that. I just went back and read it again. So I didn't actually take an actual moment from the writing that was in the post. It's just it made me think of something not actually stressed in that piece, so I guess in a way, I didn't actually 'take' it from the post. It was an interesting idea, I would read it. When I said I wasn't interested in the plot, I meant I wasn't taking the plot and writing about it, as a book or story, it was just that moment and that emotion I wanted to try to capture. I have no idea if it worked or if it's not too wordy or overdone. i guess I fret and doubt like anybody does about their writing and friends and family aren't really very helpful in terms of constructive feedback. I felt the need to explain myself better, in case I wasn't clear enough in the first place.
     
  17. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    I think mostly I'm just confused as to what this thread is about, probably speak for everyone who's looked at it too. Not sure if the text that is written here was yours or not either. If it's something you want critiqued, then rules are stated about posting something like that by new members. If it's something someone else wrote then what exactly are you wanting to do? Maybe discuss the emotion brought out in it? There's no clarity to the goal of this thread. I'm curious now at this point though. No need to doubt yourself, I just don't think anyone knows what this is about...
     
  18. Jeff Countryman

    Jeff Countryman Living the dream

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    To 'capture an emotion' in writing is imperative for an author....the reader needs to be emotionally involved, obviously. But, how does an author do that??? There's several ways, ranging from cliches to first-person/present-tense accounts. Research the issue in order to find a way to do it within your own writing. To begin, I suggest "The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression" by Angel Ackerman & Becca Publisi (or a subsequent freebie by the same authors entitled 'Emotion Amplifiers'). I have no clue if that answers your question as I didn't understand it, but I hope it helps :)
     
  19. Mic dm

    Mic dm New Member

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    sorry, I thought that just applied to using the workshop for like a work in process, as in a excerpt or a chapter etc. I see people post little snippets, a sentence or two or a paragraph all the time, and it gets discussed and critiqued, and I'm not talking about in the workshop. I mean right here in the general writing forum. No where does it say that no new members are allowed to do that, that I thought was talking about the workshop. So, Im sorry forget about the whole thing. I will go back to my writing. Have a good day and happy writing everybody.
     
  20. Jeff Countryman

    Jeff Countryman Living the dream

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    No worries . . . why not try critiquing in the workshop a couple of times? You never know what you might read and learn once you critique someone else's work . . . and it's friendly. Then, you might be able to post this same question there for a more robust and inclusive response. It's worth a try . . .
     
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  21. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    This is true, there's a lot to learn from critiquing someone else. I actually didn't realize how much I would learn from it until I tried.
     
  22. Stammis

    Stammis Senior Member

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    The main character in my fantasy story is granted a power that many of his people held a millenia ago. It is not clear how he received it and the MC doesn't have anyone to teach him how to control it. Hence, he has surges of power through emotional encounters, mostly anger and sadness. He does learn to control it better, through different means in the story, but my question is: does having a power of a character tied to their emotions make it into a cliché or a trope? A cliché being something generally overused in media.
     
  23. NobodySpecial

    NobodySpecial Contributor Contributor

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    I think a lot of that will depend on what you do with it. If you write it out like every other story that used the premise you'll be moving into cliche territory. If you do something new and interesting with it, not so much. Still, you want to be careful of working with may be already overused premises. I don't read a whole lot of fantasy, so I honestly don't know how common a device that's going to be.
     
  24. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    I wouldn't call it over-used, because superhero movies are hot right now, and emotion is a driving force behind the power. At the least, emotion accentuates the power. Maybe you could try the opposite - the power emerges during the meditative state. In this case, emotion becomes the superhero's achilles heel. I don't know, though. It sounds a little weird having a Buddhist monk calmly kicking butt. Although, remember Caine in the Kung Fu series? He was a calm superhero.
     
  25. motherconfessor

    motherconfessor New Member

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    I feel like it's a trope. It's definitely a trope on Trope TV but otherwise, I think it can be used in cliché way if you have the boring blah-blah hero story where the power is in a climatic a dues ex machina moment where they defeat the villain. I feel cheated every time unless it's hinted at and LEADING to that moment (as such with Avatar: the Last Airbender, which did that final battle justice imo) but then it's not really dues ex machina.

    So I guess, don't have it appear out of nowhere?
     

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