Sunday, April 10, 2011

I is for .... Inspiration

Whenever I mention to anyone that I'm a writer (and it' s not something I mention much) they ask me 'So, where do you get your ideas from?' And it isn't an easy question to answer. Inspiration for stories comes from all over the place. Often one line in a movie is enough to spark my imagination. Sometimes I read a book and some small side plot grips me and I begin to wonder what might have happened if....

I also find stories in my everyday life. Working in a cinema, I get to interact with a lot of different people. Sometimes the way certain people act toward me or my staff or their companions interests me and I find myself spinning a story about why they are behaving that way. I watch people on the street too, filling in their personal histories in my head as they pass by.

On occasion, it has been a place that has spawned a story. A location that just cried out for characters to inhabit it. I have a number of short stories that started that way. The newspaper is also a great place to find story starters. How often have you heard the phrase 'truth is stranger than fiction'?

My novels have all come from different inspirations. Assignment 9 was spawned from an exercise in writing an emotion. I chose distress, and from that single scene, I discovered two of my central characters and decided to explore their journey further. It was much later that I added the framing story which ties it loosely to another book I've written. That book, Holding it Together, which I have just started rewriting from scratch, came from real life experience. It's a story that has been itching to be told for years, but I've never managed to do it justice. I'm hoping I now have the writing skill to tell the story.

Prayer and Prey came out of a challenge from my writing group. We each picked two genres out of a hat and had to write something based on them. My two genres were sports and western. Somehow, from that I managed to write a romance novel set against the tail end of the Australian gold rush. And Chasing the the Tail Lights has perhaps the most interesting origin story. I started off wanting to write an adult novel. I had most of the plot in my mind, and was just about to start writing when I realized the two main characters had this huge complex backstory that was absolutely central to their current relationship. As I thought more about it, I realized this relationship, and how it came about, was just as interesting as the story I had planned to tell. So I decided to write that instead, taking the characters back 20 years and making it a YA novel.

How do you find inspiration for your work?


  1. I'm like you, it comes from everywhere, and always hits when I least expect it. My plot holes and writer's block are always worked out over the washing up however.

  2. Another blog posted on this and asked this question. I get my inspiration from reading and daydreaming, and when I hear something that sparks my imagination, like an incident someone might tell.

  3. Wonderful.
    I get my inspiration from gratitude.
    Thank you!

  4. We can never get too much inspiration, can we? And the times it's lacking feel so empty! I guess that makes us love it all the more when it comes. Great topic.

    I found your blog, Kate, through comments you've made on other blogs, and you've got an award waiting for you over on Critique Sisters. Will be back to see what the rest of the alphabet brings!