Notifications
Clear all

Where do you get your inspiration?

Page 1 / 2
 
Chris533
(@chris533)
Active Member
Posts: 12

I saw this subject come up within another thread - on another subject and, a) I lost it, and b) figure it warrants it's own thread anyway.

So - when you're trying to come up with new stories - where do you get your ideas/inspiration?

Vol.34-Q2 HM
Vol.35-Q1 R

Quote
Topic starter Posted : October 17, 2017 4:09 pm
morganb
(@morganb)
Bronze Member
Posts: 86

Ahhh...the age-old question. It always seems to be different for everyone. But I think what it really all comes down to is keeping an open mind and an active curiosity, trying to see old things in new ways, paying attention to what's going on around you, and always asking yourself, "What if...?" I find that when I'm doing all this, stuff just sort of pops in and the light bulb begins to glow.

~Morgan

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King

Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

HM x 1
R x 4

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 18, 2017 1:18 am
Reigheena
(@reigheena)
Bronze Member
Posts: 69

A lot of my story ideas have come from playing video games and wanting to take things a different direction than they did. Such as "What if Zelda was jealous that Link found the Master Sword?"

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 18, 2017 12:57 pm
morganb
(@morganb)
Bronze Member
Posts: 86

A lot of my story ideas have come from playing video games and wanting to take things a different direction than they did. Such as "What if Zelda was jealous that Link found the Master Sword?"

Ha ha! That's awesome! And gives me a good excuse to play more video games. "I'm doing research honey, really!"

~Morgan

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King

Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

HM x 1
R x 4

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 18, 2017 11:54 pm
LDWriter2
(@ldwriter2)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1258

Hmm, everywhere? Pictures are a major inspiration. Other stories, even novel length ones. Sometimes an idea will just pop into my head. Usually when that happens it is one scene and I need to do what led up to that scene and what comes after, if anything. Rare times a dream. Rare also is sometimes a phrase I hear or read. Another rare one is titles and blurbs for published books. I see what I can do with the same basic idea.

Working on turning Lead into Gold.
Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 22, 2017 3:45 pm
pcmccollum
(@pcmccollum)
Bronze Member
Posts: 50

I think you're going to find a lot of repetition in this thread. wotf001

Just to give you an idea, here are the seeds from my last five stories:

  • A pink bottle of Mr. Bubbles[/*:m:2d1e8kb9]
  • Storycubes[/*:m:2d1e8kb9]
  • My childhood bedroom door that had what looked like a monster's face in its grain[/*:m:2d1e8kb9]
  • 80s Hip-Hop culture[/*:m:2d1e8kb9]
  • Tendai Monks of Japan that run A LOT over seven years.[/*:m:2d1e8kb9][/list:u:2d1e8kb9]
  • We're writers! We should be able to find ideas anywhere.

    ReplyQuote
Posted : October 23, 2017 8:50 am
kentagions
(@kentagions)
Bronze Member
Posts: 94

What is the most logical conclusion to a current trend? = Setting/milieu

What are the two most incongruous ideas (one SF and one character oriented) I can smash together to create the core problem of a story?

How will a character with certain traits react if she/he is forced into a situation where no choice has a positive outcome?

Humor: What is the most absurd conclusion to a current trend? = Setting/milieu

Humor: What is the funniest thing that can happen to this character in this situation at this time?

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 24, 2017 3:11 am
Terence Park
(@tparchie)
Active Member
Posts: 5

This is different for everyone. Observation of the writing groups I've been to suggests that many depend on a prompt. Professional authors have themes they work to - this I guess will tie into their respective book deals. A prompt seems artificial and forced to me. Themes aren't hard, there are thousands of them just waiting to be explored. The exploration side is different; I have a number of different ways of dealing with the actual process, depending on whether I'm progressing a scene, resolving a plot discontinuity or sharpening up a character.
Those different ways can mean going for a walk, sleeping on it, listening to a relevant musical piece in the car or just plain writing out the ideas (paper or PC). Sometimes, all it takes is a measured discontinuity to the process of writing, to get things to click.

ReplyQuote
Posted : October 25, 2017 10:35 am
SulanDun
(@sulandun)
Active Member
Posts: 16

I think about interesting scientific scenarios and eventually those morph into ideas for sci fi stories.

ReplyQuote
Posted : March 26, 2018 2:45 pm
DragonRider
(@dragonrider)
New Member
Posts: 3

Usually I look at something in the world around me and decide to become interested in it, and ask myself "What if..." questions about the item.
Or place it on an alien planet and ... maybe it mutates. Or maybe there's a whole colony of beings living inside of it. Or it's actually a super-being in disguise, meddling with human thought and running experiments on us. Or...
Then I build from there. ;p

HM x 1
R x 1

ReplyQuote
Posted : April 5, 2018 10:57 am
BLAlley
(@blalley)
Active Member
Posts: 14

I never tried to come up with an idea. I wrote every story based on an idea which came to me in one form or another.

My books were inspired by:

Twin Arrows Trading Post.
Watching Baseball on TV.
A dream.
A paper by Professor Thomas J Weiler of Vanderbilt Physics Department
A flash fiction contest prompt
Earwigs

ReplyQuote
Posted : June 5, 2018 12:13 pm
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 696

My stories come from collisions of ideas. I usually picture a character, with some background ideas, and they sit in an empty room until another idea joins the space, a setting or a conflict that interests me. I bring them together to write my stories. The Writing Excuses podcast discussed a similar approach, that good stories don't come from one place but many. Nice to be in their company in one sense, anyway Smile

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 7, 2018 8:11 am
Elto_Danzig
(@elto_danzig)
Active Member
Posts: 7

History, usually

eltodanzig.wordpress.com
2018 Finalist Baen Publishing Fantasy Adventure Award
V35Q3: HM | V35Q4: First round pass

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 18, 2018 6:05 am
SulanDun
(@sulandun)
Active Member
Posts: 16

I have a list of interesting scientific what if ideas I’d like to explore. I think about them and daydream until I get story ideas that both work as a story and also as a vehicle for exploring the idea.

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 23, 2018 11:51 am
orbivillein
(@orbivillein)
Bronze Member
Posts: 73

From perturbations of my orbit, internal and external influences that bother or delight and complicate my life, that want understanding of their meanings, and probably shared by more than a few other people.

ReplyQuote
Posted : July 24, 2018 7:58 am
WaywardSaint
(@waywardsaint)
Active Member
Posts: 5

Dreams. As in: things my subconscious mind turns loose on me while I sleep.

NR-NR-R-R-R-HM-SHM-HM-HM-R

ReplyQuote
Posted : August 14, 2018 10:37 am
mikewyantjr
(@mikewyantjr)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 177

What if X was true...
Politics...
Socio-economic inequality...
Mental Illness...

... as it affects a person right now/in the future/in the fantasy world I created.

WotF Results:

R:6
HM:10
sHM:0
SF:1
F:0
Last: HM, Q1 v38

ReplyQuote
Posted : August 15, 2018 8:56 am
LibrarianBarbarian
(@librarianbarbarian)
Advanced Member
Posts: 39

I've gotten inspiration from dreams, landscapes, historical incidents, memories of friendships or relationships I have had and the intricate toy-soldier scenarios I played as a child, role-playing and computer games and many other places.

Once I saw two brothers eating together at a Golden Corral Buffet and based on their appearances, the way one was eating his ribs, and snatches of their conversation, I built them into the savage protagonist and his monstrous sidekick of my first published story. I'm sure those two anonymous guys would be really thrilled if they knew.

Sometimes I take little bits of stories I have read or movies I have seen and blend and shape them into something that is different enough from the originals to avoid being accused of plagiarism. Several times I have based a character on the image presented by an actor, actress or other celebrity. If you are in the proper frame of mind, you can pick up inspiration almost anywhere.

ReplyQuote
Posted : March 1, 2020 8:18 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1055

Apparently, I never actually posted in this thread. O_o Was sure I had.

In any case, my inspirations are wide and varied. Books, both fiction and nonfiction; movies and TV (though not as often these days, because the twins have severely limited my TV time); music; conversations with friends/family; etcetera. When I come up with an interesting thought/idea that doesn't quite fit anything, I jot down notes in a Google Doc I've titled "Word Doodles". Haven't had any stories come from that doc yet, but it's growing ever so slowly and it's fun to read.

I will admit that a number of the larger stories I'm exploring these days are about and/or inspired by characters I've played in tabletop RPGs--most often RPGs I was GMing, had come up with an original setting for, etcetera. (There was a ten-year period where I didn't really write, but did a LOT of gaming, so my story ideas from that time period ended up as game fodder instead of landing directly on the page.)

I've gotten inspiration from dreams, landscapes, historical incidents, memories of friendships or relationships I have had and the intricate toy-soldier scenarios I played as a child, role-playing and computer games and many other places.

The mention of toy-soldier scenarios put me in mind of all the things I used to play with when I was a child. My mother never bought toy soldiers for me or my siblings, but we did have little plastic figures I could run around on adventures or big dramatic things. We collected a bunch of sea shells from the beach one year, and I used to divide them into the different types of shells and have them be family groups and run these big, dramatic Romeo and Juliette style dramas. When I got a bit older, I got these awesome horse toys called Grand Champions that I'd do similar things with (they all had names, but other details changed from game to game). Those horses saw a lot of things, man...

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, ?, ?
Ticknor Tales

ReplyQuote
Posted : March 1, 2020 10:29 pm
MtlWriter
(@mtlwriter)
New Member
Posts: 2

I get mine from the dump I live in. The lack of any kind of real-life and any money to do something about it.
Wanting something better is also my inspiration, as well as hoping to make my son proud to be my son.

ReplyQuote
Posted : March 6, 2020 8:42 am
ellisael
(@ellisael)
Active Member
Posts: 15

i am often inspired by the morning walks that i take and the morning ritual of freewriting that i do

ReplyQuote
Posted : March 11, 2020 8:24 pm
tonycreeney
(@tonycreeney)
New Member
Posts: 3

I get my inspiration for stories from emotions.

I sit down, look at the screen, and do a little word-association game. That association is a load of word-vomit that's linked to how I'm feeling--for some reason, negative emotions flow better during this little exercise; go figure--and once I have that flash of inspiration that my subconscious launches into my brain, off I go.

I've tried coming up with ideas before hand, but the stories just never worked. It felt so restricting, so limiting to me, I had to give up and find another way; it's annoying because I've got so many cool concepts I'd love to try, but I know they wouldn't work because of the way my brain's wired. Every time I finish a first draft, I'm always like, "what the f**k did I just write?" wotf019

It's exciting, not knowing what you're about to write. A little terrifying too. But, you've got to work with the tools God gave you.

Regards,
Tony Creeney

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 21, 2020 3:05 am
Rey Nichols
(@rnichols)
Bronze Member
Posts: 53

My ideas come from a myriad of places.

Sometimes it will come up as part of a discussion when I'm just spitballing with my friends. Sometimes it will be a picture that prompts my imagination to start thinking.

I have a notebook that I jot random ideas down in because they just come to me at the strangest times (the weirdest one being a fantasy series I plan on working on later this year, that I came up with a world build for while in the shower)

I get inspired by a lot of the things I read and see, and I usually try to find a way to take the tropes used and see if I can put a unique spin on it.
The other thing that inspires me is that I know with each project I complete, its one more step towards being published, and that really drives me and gets me going Smile

HM: 3
R: 1
www.reynichols.com

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 21, 2020 4:10 am
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Silver Member
Posts: 285
Posted by: @disgruntledpeony

I will admit that a number of the larger stories I'm exploring these days are about and/or inspired by characters I've played in tabletop RPGs--most often RPGs I was GMing, had come up with an original setting for, etcetera. (There was a ten-year period where I didn't really write, but did a LOT of gaming, so my story ideas from that time period ended up as game fodder instead of landing directly on the page.)

I started trying to dig through old posts, because I had intended to come back and ask if people had similar experiences, and ran across this one--your experiences definitely outstrip mine here!

I only recently started running RPGs as a GM. We have a fairly eclectic, irregular group that meets virtually on Saturdays, with the folks who can attend shifting around according to their own personal commitments, health, and so on, and most of the players except for me had run games--so I decided to pick a setting, and run some games as well on days when others were unprepared or feeling a little tired (my chosen setting and system is Delta Green, as nobody else was running it at the time). I have mostly been running pre-built setups, but something I've learned from them is how much research you need to make a game compelling--even for the first pre-built I ran, I had to research small-town police station personnel, different legal powers across different branches of policing (the police, sheriffs, state troopers, and so on) and emergency organizations, laws around who can control airport closures, hours of sunrise/sunset, what kinds of drugs might impact neuro-electrical activity, and all kinds of other things. What was intriguing to me is how much random information I'll gather while working up this, even when the scenario is already made!

I have a separate one I wrote myself, which I've yet to run--but which I've also started writing up as a short story, effectively running a single character through the scenario myself. It's quite fun to do, though I'm looking forward a little more to seeing what players would do with it--as even my limited experience tells me they're going to take it in a direction I did not expect. For that one, I also researched the region around Boulder, CO, picked a relatively blank spot within a few hours of town, and built up a fictional town with an attached small college. Plus a lake, which is reasonable for the area too (though the actual lake I chose is, in fact, in the Lake District in north-west England--but the picture I have looks like it could be in Colorado).

It feels like I get something a little different out of running these games, but I haven't run enough yet to fully grasp exactly what it is--other than learning that, when I'm having to improvise, the characters I'm controlling do appear to miss the mark a little (see: the small US desert-town restaurant that my friend said he'd absolutely go to, because everyone inside it was so surprisingly polite and well-spoken. I may have projected English tea-house onto that restaurant more than I intended to.)

R: 0 / HM: 8 / SHM: 3 / SF: 0 / F: 1
Currently in for Q2.V38 / Q3.V38 in final revisions / Q4.V38 in flux (3 possibles, all complete)
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle
Revised HM ('The Winds of the Mind') forthcoming at Abyss and Apex, ~October 2023

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 7, 2021 11:52 am
ZenaWilde
(@zenawilde)
New Member
Posts: 2

My inspiration mainly comes from reading good books, watching TV/films, and dreams. The book thing I kinda only figured out recently - I was reading a lot of non-fiction, and my creative well was running reaaaaaaallly low. It was only when I finished that reading material and turned back to fantasy/sci-fi that inspiration started to come again (that, and making more of an effort to actually writer instead of dreaming about writing...). I love reading a wide variety of genres though, so I don't think the non-fiction was a waste of time or anything - I feel like I now have a deeper understanding of the subjects I was reading about, which I can use in my world/character building. No reading is wasted reading!

I must say though, that a majority of my inspiration does seem to come from dreams and wandering thoughts. I have very vivid dreams (every night's a movie night in my head!) and sometimes I'll wake up with what I know could potentially be a story starting point already OR I'll wake up with such an intense feeling lingering with me over a certain dream, that I'll want to explore it more and try to work that into my writing somehow. I have a very bad tendency for daydreaming in general, and sometimes something will just pop into my head and I'll go from there. My fantasy novel came from a saying that drifted into my head as I was falling asleep - I immediately started writing everything down that I thought of around this saying/scenario, and my book was born.

I recently read Stephen King's 'On Writing' and in it he says something along the lines of the more you write, the more inspired you'll be. I didn't really believe this until I started writing again recently - I made a conscious effort to note when I was feeling inspired and I genuinely couldn't believe it when I discovered that this was true. The more I write, the more immersed I get in that world, the more I'll think about it while I'm out and about and the whole thing just snowballs. It's a very fascinating thing, once you realise you're doing it!

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 7, 2021 12:25 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1055
Posted by: @doctorjest
Posted by: @disgruntledpeony

I will admit that a number of the larger stories I'm exploring these days are about and/or inspired by characters I've played in tabletop RPGs--most often RPGs I was GMing, had come up with an original setting for, etcetera. (There was a ten-year period where I didn't really write, but did a LOT of gaming, so my story ideas from that time period ended up as game fodder instead of landing directly on the page.)

I started trying to dig through old posts, because I had intended to come back and ask if people had similar experiences, and ran across this one--your experiences definitely outstrip mine here!

I only recently started running RPGs as a GM. We have a fairly eclectic, irregular group that meets virtually on Saturdays, with the folks who can attend shifting around according to their own personal commitments, health, and so on, and most of the players except for me had run games--so I decided to pick a setting, and run some games as well on days when others were unprepared or feeling a little tired (my chosen setting and system is Delta Green, as nobody else was running it at the time). I have mostly been running pre-built setups, but something I've learned from them is how much research you need to make a game compelling--even for the first pre-built I ran, I had to research small-town police station personnel, different legal powers across different branches of policing (the police, sheriffs, state troopers, and so on) and emergency organizations, laws around who can control airport closures, hours of sunrise/sunset, what kinds of drugs might impact neuro-electrical activity, and all kinds of other things. What was intriguing to me is how much random information I'll gather while working up this, even when the scenario is already made!

I have a separate one I wrote myself, which I've yet to run--but which I've also started writing up as a short story, effectively running a single character through the scenario myself. It's quite fun to do, though I'm looking forward a little more to seeing what players would do with it--as even my limited experience tells me they're going to take it in a direction I did not expect. For that one, I also researched the region around Boulder, CO, picked a relatively blank spot within a few hours of town, and built up a fictional town with an attached small college. Plus a lake, which is reasonable for the area too (though the actual lake I chose is, in fact, in the Lake District in north-west England--but the picture I have looks like it could be in Colorado).

It feels like I get something a little different out of running these games, but I haven't run enough yet to fully grasp exactly what it is--other than learning that, when I'm having to improvise, the characters I'm controlling do appear to miss the mark a little (see: the small US desert-town restaurant that my friend said he'd absolutely go to, because everyone inside it was so surprisingly polite and well-spoken. I may have projected English tea-house onto that restaurant more than I intended to.)

I've never actually run or played Delta Green, but it sounds the sort of game that would be right up my alley. I've played my share of D&D, but I rather enjoy running World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness, which has an urban horror feel to it.

Running pre-written modules is always an interesting experience, especially when the players deviate from the elements presented.

Running a TTRPG is kind of like a cross between writing and acting. Writing gives more complete control of the storyline, of course; if the players don't have an effect how on a game's story flows, something is wrong. But, unless something goes horribly wrong, that's half the fun. Also, there are safety tools that can be employed to help reduce the chances of things going awry. (I wish I'd known about those back when I started.)

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, ?, ?
Ticknor Tales

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 7, 2021 2:15 pm
DoctorJest
(@doctorjest)
Silver Member
Posts: 285
Posted by: @disgruntledpeony

I've never actually run or played Delta Green, but it sounds the sort of game that would be right up my alley. I've played my share of D&D, but I rather enjoy running World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness, which has an urban horror feel to it.

Running pre-written modules is always an interesting experience, especially when the players deviate from the elements presented.

Running a TTRPG is kind of like a cross between writing and acting. Writing gives more complete control of the storyline, of course; if the players don't have an effect how on a game's story flows, something is wrong. But, unless something goes horribly wrong, that's half the fun. Also, there are safety tools that can be employed to help reduce the chances of things going awry. (I wish I'd known about those back when I started.)

If Urban Horror is your vibe, then I think you'd like Delta Green a lot. They came out with a new long-term scenario recently, based on The King in Yellow, which I was tempted to pick up--but our group is too unstable for me to think that would work out well.

(Side note: one of the scenarios I have is just so unpleasant that I don't want to run it. I guess that means it succeeded at the horror angle, but there are horror movies I don't want to watch either, so I just slot it right into that not-for-me bracket and ignore it.)

I found it was true, too, that running a game was as much performance as it was writing--and one of the GMs in our group is spectacularly good at this. He's very impressive at ad-libbing his way through whatever the party chooses to do, and is quite delighted to tell us about how we took the game off in directions that he had no plans whatsoever to deal with ahead of time. You feel like you have tremendous agency within the games he runs--he sets the stage, and the players end up telling the story. It's also generally very difficult to get any sense of where the game breaks from stuff he had planned, and instead diving off into things he's making up on the fly. He sets the bar very high for what a well-run game should look like.

R: 0 / HM: 8 / SHM: 3 / SF: 0 / F: 1
Currently in for Q2.V38 / Q3.V38 in final revisions / Q4.V38 in flux (3 possibles, all complete)
Revised SHM ('Ashwright') at PodCastle
Revised HM ('The Winds of the Mind') forthcoming at Abyss and Apex, ~October 2023

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 7, 2021 4:58 pm
earthkeeper
(@earthkeeper78)
Active Member
Posts: 11

I have a few sources of inspiration. Some of my ideas come from the video games I enjoy playing, especially RPGs. I also get a lot of inspiration from various branches of mythology. There's even a bit of history that gives me ideas, particularly when it comes to the political and historical aspects of my world. It all depends on the writer.

"Trust is like a shop. Difficult to build, but surprisingly easy to ruin. But when it is strong and true, there are few things in this world that make you feel stronger."
V37: HM
V38: X,P

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 11, 2021 9:56 am
AlexH
(@alexh)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 247

I get inspiration from all sorts of places. Other stories, poetry, non-fiction, films, music, podcasts, photos, artwork, history, imagined futures, life experience, things other people do. Perhaps I could figure out a better way of combining those inspirations to make the writing process easier e.g. taking aspects of a famous person as a basis for a character and putting them in the setting from an artwork.

Today I learnt from the Crowd Science podcast ( https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cszv5r) that every time we breathe out, within a year about one atom from that breath reaches every other person's lungs on the whole of the Earth (so much for social distancing 😀). And each of us contains about one atom of every person that's ever lived. I think that's spectacular.

35: - R R R | 36: R HM R R | 37: HM HM HM SHM | 38: HM

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 12, 2021 12:45 pm
Wulf Moon liked
David Hankins
(@lost_bard)
Advanced Member
Posts: 33

My inspirations come primarily from life and media. My kid’s perspective and random 8yo stories often provides fodder for fascinating takes on real life. 

I’ve been listening carefully to the lyrics of songs on the radio and have come up with a few interesting ideas based on the poetry and phrasing the singers use. I’ve especially appreciated the lyrics of Fallout Boy, Imagine Dragons, and Panic! At the Disco for really interesting phrases and word choices that get me thinking. 

ReplyQuote
Posted : May 22, 2021 4:46 pm
Wulf Moon liked
Page 1 / 2
Share: