Hmmm. That got me thinking. I've blogged before about Eureka Moments – those times when an idea suddenly flashes into your head, bringing to life part (or all) of a story which previously, was lurking in the background, scuffing its feet and refusing to look at you.
But these moments are not the only thing which create my stories. If they were, I'd be doing a lot of hanging around, waiting for them to turn up. Instead, what I try to do is be open to those things in everyday life which might become the seeds of ideas.
I see and hear hundreds of things every day which could become part of my stories, often without even realising until the moment when I actually need them arrives. Quite often, photographs For example, while looking online for pictures of people who looked like my characters in ACID, I found this image:
|Image source - rasmus ledin on Tumblr|
As soon as I saw this photo a name came into my head – Myo. And Myo is now one of the main characters in my new novel, THE FEARLESS, which I'm currently editing. At first, I wasn't sure what his role was going to be, but there was something about this photo that told me he had a secret, and as soon as I realised that, I realised what this secret was, and where he'd fit in the story. Around the same time, I stumbled across a website about a place called Hashima Island in Japan (also known as Gunkanjima - 'Battleship Island' – and recently used to inspire a location in the latest James Bond film). The images on this site have been a major source of inspiration for one of the main locations in THE FEARLESS, which is set in a near-future, post-apocalyptic Britain. (The website where I found out about Hashima, gakuran.com, has some incredible photos of ruins and abandoned buildings, so if you're writing your own post-apoc and want inspiration, check it out!)
|Image source - mab-ken on Flickr (licensed for use under Creative Commons)|
Music, too, can provide inspiration. The type of music depends on the type of book I'm writing, but certain pieces of music can make a scene spring into life inside my head, sometimes long before I'm ready to start writing it. This is one of the reasons I make soundtracks for my books which I listen to almost exclusively while I'm writing the various drafts (you can see the THE FEARLESS's soundtrack in this post here).
And what about other books? Some people don't read when they're writing to stop themselves being influenced by other people's work, or won't read anything in a similar genre to the book they're working on, but for me, this would be like stopping breathing. While I would never copy anything another author has done (that's called plagiarism, people, and it's a VERY BAD IDEA), seeing how other writers approach problems similar to ones I might be having in my own writing is incredibly useful, especially with a book like THE FEARLESS which is turning out to be quite complex (3 POVs at the moment, and multiple plotlines with a lot of backstory).
But inspiration doesn't have to come from anything so concrete. It can be sparked off by anything: a gesture, a word, a sound, the way the sun slants across the horizon, the sound of a dog barking being carried on the wind… any number of those tiny, fleeeting moments that set your senses tingling and make you want to reach for your pen (or laptop) and write.
Stories are everywhere. They're just waiting for us to find them.