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Some Thoughts On Inspiration

In what was a first for me, a reader reached out to me through my website to tell me that he was a fan and to ask where I got my inspiration from. I wrote back with an answer, and the more I thought about it, the more I liked my answer, so I've decided to reproduce it here.

Inspiration... So, to my way of thinking, storytelling is a marriage of three elements: you need a good character, you need a plot/setting to place that character in, and you need some kind of external conflict that mirrors the character's internal conflict. Characters are usually inspired by people I know or by characters in other media--I'll take a handful traits from different individuals and mix them together. I usually will have a guiding philosophy in mind for this person. It won't be obvious in the story, but it helps the writing to be able to say fundamentally, quirks aside, this individual is a humanist/hedonist/narcissist/etc. Story/setting are the weird ideas that occur to you a dozen times a day. What if people could teleport to the grocery store, etc. If I stumble across an even remotely interesting notion, I'll jot it down for later reference, so at any given time I've got a list of fifty-ish ideas I can mull over. Most of these never become stories and the list does get pruned from time to time. Finally, I consume a lot of news and non-fiction, so that gives me a thematic basis for the conflict of a story. I'm always on the lookout for interesting philosophical/economic/moralistic notions that can be translated into a smaller individual conflict.

There's also a lot of personal taste in there. I like redemptive heroes more than virtuous ones. I like optimistic heroes over dour ones. I like anything about AI or time travel. Once I have a workable mix, I'll flesh out the plot and get writing, but that process is less about inspiration than practice. And it doesn't always happen as cleanly as I've described above--sometimes I just start running with a plot because I'm excited about the idea and I figure out the character and themes on the fly. But overall that's the basic process.

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Comments

Deepak Yadav said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deepak Yadav said…
Well, nice thoughts thanks for sharing. I love to read inspirational thoughts because they help us a lot in our life. we all some time stuck at some point and at that time we all need inspirational thoughts that lead us on the right path of life. When I need some thoughts than I read books. Usually, I download eBook online and read the story.
Michael Ruth said…
Well written post shared. You really shared inspirational thoughts. Great work.
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