Margaret wrote recently about her love for gadgets and capturing that moment of inspiration. But what if you’re searching for that inspiration?
I can generally come up with some fairly good story themes. (Notice that I didn’t say “plot” – I’m still learning about plotting.). For example: what if you got what you always wanted, but then realized you didn’t want it after all?
For me to sink my teeth into any theme I have to populate it with characters and at least a little detail. Yes, there is always free-writing, brainstorming, meditating, and . . .. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not. When it’s not, these are some of the places I go for inspiration.
Pinterest. I must have faces to go with my characters, and the Celebrities boards can do that quicker than anything I’ve found. Stuck on a motivation? Try the Quotes board. Need a setting? Home Décor and Travel boards work wonders. (Because I’d love to actually go places, but my husband won’t fly.) There are also several great writing group and library pinners.
IMDB.com. Find your character inspiration and then go find their movies. Watch and listen to them in action. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve seen a movie or a trailer and squealed, “Oh! That’s my spy!” (or my ATF agent, or my lawyer, or my rancher, or . . ..) I do try not to squeal in public.
Audible.com. Search by narrator, or find your favorite book and see who reads it. Audio books are also great for listening to dialog if you’re stuck on making yours sound realistic. I am a complete sucker for Georgette Heyer, and hearing those makes me smile like an idiot.
Sephora. Smell is an important detail for me. I stand in the fragrance section spraying cologne on those little paper swatches and scribbling fragrance names. (The hubby doesn’t wear any. He always smells like Irish Spring.) I’ve actually loved a cologne only to have a hero tell me he wouldn’t wear it because he couldn’t pronounce it. It gave me a much larger insight into his character. It also made me worry just a bit about my sanity.
iTunes. I love music, so my manuscripts have soundtracks. Sometimes a character has a favorite song, or a random line will trigger a motivation. One of my favorites for this current theme? It’s from Rihanna: “Funny, you’re the broken one but I’m the only one who needed saving.” Imagine what you could do with that! But I think I’ve broken my iTunes “genius” – it’s recommending Justin Bieber.
Other people. My best friend helped me come up with a theme at the gym based on a brainstorming exercise from a workshop. Another girlfriend lets her imagination run wild with me when we go to lunch. One of my characters looks just like a guy I used to see a lot in the library.
My husband is a veritable goldmine. He gets all my guy questions – which can range from body armor to other types of protection. He’s also an amateur World War II historian. He’s started giving me hints and recommendations for a story I’m plotting in that era. It’s sweet to have him leave an article for me or stick a note on the bathroom mirror.
Polyvore.com. When I’m dealing with descriptions, I always remember what Stephen King said about clothes: “If I want to read descriptions of clothes, I can always get a J. Crew catalogue.” While I may not want to describe it in detail, I need to see it. Polyvore is a virtual closet. Create an outfit with a few clicks and get as detailed as you want. It will also create virtual rooms if you need help with setting. (Oh, and you can shop from there and it will email you when things you like go on sale, but that’s a completely different topic.)
Do some homework. Voirey posted about when a story falls apart. That’s when I do some homework. The Write Great Fiction books have instruction, examples, and then exercises to apply what you’re learning to your own writing. I wrote a solid final chapter but it didn’t have any zip, and then I did a little homework — brainstorming 10 other ways for the story to end. The result? I have a bang-up ending that I can’t believe I wrote.
Read something else. Good writers are avid readers. Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley series contains some of the most human characters I have ever read. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series is dark humor and complex plot at its finest. Georgette Heyer is the master of sly, witty dialog.
There you have it! This is either a great example of how I find my inspiration or how I waste my time when I’m supposed to be writing.
What about you? Where do you get your inspiration?
Have a great month!