We all have different things that inspire us, but I guess the question I’m really asking is where do our ideas for stories come from? I’m sure everyone has a different system of coming up with stories. Some might take moments from life and write a story based around those. Others might see a picture and create a story to go along with it. There are hundreds, probably thousands of writing prompts on the internet to leap off from. In Zen in the Art of Writing Ray Bradbury talks about writing lists of nouns, and he’d end up writing stories based on those words. In a class I took during my final quarter at Lindenwood, we had to randomly select numbers that would give us our starting character(s) and the first sentence that would be our jumping off point. And from there we were to come up with a novella idea. A whole novella idea with a plot outline and everything. I thought for sure the professor was nuts. It’s amazing what can come out of something as simple as: Woman and girl (child) & “The grass had grown knee high.” I now have not a novella idea, but rather, a novel idea, because I’m terrible at keeping anything short.
Besides that, I only have a few specific memories of things that have inspired me or where specific stories came from.
I don’t know where the original idea for the enorians came from. I just know it all started in high school when my friends and I were passing notebooks back and forth between class and roleplaying in them. The only really specific moment of inspiration I remember related to the Enorians Saga was when I was in Scotland. Our whole study abroad class took a trip to the Isle of Skye, and we went to see Old Man of Storr.
It was windy to begin with, but it just became all the more intense the farther up the hill we hiked (or more like struggled, panting the whole way). With the hovering fog and the wind nearly blowing us off the mountain, I made a joke to my friends about how it was actually just wind spirits protecting the rock and trying to stop us from getting too close because it was actually a portal to another world. And thus, the portal to Enoralori was born.
Funnily enough, some of my other ideas have spawned from dreams. If you read the blog post about my mom, you’ll know the short story I wrote about the girl getting a phone call from her dead mom came from a dream I had, where my mom called me.
The novel (which grew from a short story to a novella to now a novel… whoops) I’m currently working on – The Children of Oher – also came from a dream. I dreamed that I was being forced to marry some guy I didn’t know by this cult, but really he didn’t want to marry me, either, because he was in love with his best friend. And even within the dream, I looked at the person next to me, and went “This would be a good idea for a story.” And now here we are, writing that story.
And, of course, I have to mention where “Spirits of the Sea” came from. I saw a video on facebook of Dutch people riding their draft horses down to the sea and I loved it so much I immediately went, “I have to put this in a book somewhere.” I ended up turning it into a fantasy short story, which morphed into a novel idea, because of course it did.
The one other specific memory I have of inspiration happened last year before we went to Belize. Our friends told us it would be a good idea to get a base tan before we went, since we were going in November, and the sun there is pretty intense. So I did that, and one day while I was lying in the tanning bed, I thought about how nice and warm it was. And an idea for a character popped into my head. A woman who used tanning as a way to relax after a hard day of work. It turned into some kind of weird body horror thing, because apparently that’s something I can write, I guess. I haven’t actually finished that story yet, but it exists in a half-finished state.
I also think it’s interesting to consider what inspires us in the sense of the types of things we create. I can’t seem to steer away from fantasy, nor do I really have any desire to, and I know for certain that’s because my love of reading all started with Harry Potter and has only continued to be fueled by fantasy since. I think that’s also the reason why most of my writing somehow tends to involve monsters and battles, despite that I actually hate writing battles haha. And, of course, there has to be some kind of love or romance aspect in every story, because I’m always a sucker for a love story. The enorians gods came into being after I took a Greek Mythology class during college, and while the gods themselves aren’t based on any specific gods, the idea of enorians having numerous gods came from Greek Mythology.
It’s funny. I worried in the past that I would run out of ideas. I wondered how authors could just keep coming up with new concepts, and now I’m sitting here with six books I want to write for the Enorians Saga and one prequel-type novella/novel to go along with that. I’ve got The Children of Oher I’m working on, and four more book ideas beyond those. So I guess it’s safe to say I probably won’t run out of ideas anytime soon. And hopefully if I ever do, the inspiration fairy will find me in my dreams.
What I Wrote Over the Last Week
Chapters two and three of The Children of Oher
What I’m Reading Right Now
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Horsemanship Through Life: A Trainer’s Guide to Better Living and Better Riding by Mark Rashid