Inspiration for stories and fiction comes from the real world. We all know that. Even in epic fantasy novels, the questions and delemmas the antagonist finds themselves in is often rooted in something the author has been through or witnessed personally. It’s hard to take inspiration from the world sometimes. I’ve read authors talking about the writing process say that fiction writers rarely know where their ideas come from, but I think this is a false statement.
Life around us is overwhelmingly inspirational. We can take things like unruly children in the supermarket or clothing store, quiet people that ride the bus, and people with flat tires and put ourselves in their shoes for a few minutes to begin the character creation process. The little mannerisms of people we’ve never met, or the way a person’s voice sounds to us. Everything is inspiration.
Take regular American men’s names like Mike, John, Frank, Jeff, and Larry for example. These names, while only a list of some common names, represents different personalities and faces. Perhaps you are thinking of that time the Mike did something, or Larry said something. What about Frank? Do you think of an older man like I do, or do you have a younger friend or loved one that comes to mind?
Situations are much the same. Flat tires, the starter going in your car or overheating, bills, doctors appointments, work schedules in first, second, or third shift. These situations mean something different to each of us. The world inspires everyday whether we see it consciously or not. Our brain is constantly recording when we are awake, and the small details are filed away without us ever knowing it.
Overarcing storylines are similar. There is always a goal for the character, or some grand problem to overcome. The story gets more interesting when we create scenarios that people have been through. Even in epic fantasies where the protagonist is hassled by a shopkeeper over something trivial, or the protagonist meets the antagonist for the first time under extreme duress.
Every character in your book is living his or her life to the best of their ability, be it the antagonist, protagonist, small supporting characters, or even the people in the crowd that cheers or jeers at something happening. They are all real people in the universe you’ve created. Real people inspired by the faces you’ve seen in real life, and living lives that, if you took the time to consider, are important and meaningful to them.
Leave me comments below and let me know where you see inspiration in the world.