I want to begin this article with a common question that I’ve seen authors of all levels experience: What inspires your writings?
Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes, and some authors are lucky enough to have an innate spark for it. They can conjure complex stories and full-length series from thin air, while others (like me) need a little extra help from outside sources.
Thankfully, the world around us has an endless stream of inspiring objects and scenarios, and I want to share some of my favorites. I use them when I need an idea for my next project, and they haven’t let me down yet!
So, without further ado, here are Six Things that can Inspire your Writing.
How many books, stories, or poems can you think of that have a piece of jewelry at the center of the plot?
There are quite a few, and that’s because we like to give our jewelry power. Maybe that ring brings you luck, or that necklace makes you feel calmer throughout the day. Maybe your grandmother’s broach makes you feel like she’s nearby, or your dad’s watch reminds you of happier times. Or, what if you find an unusual pendant and want to write its backstory?
Whatever the scenario, it’ll make for a good story!
- Use that lucky ring in a story about a poor girl in Vegas.
- Let your dad’s watch be the flashback point for your character, but maybe his memories aren’t what they seem.
- Or, turn that necklace into a talisman for magic that helps a wizard defeat a great evil.
- Make the pendant a seal of the king, and it’s your character’s job to get it back to him.
Not only is jewelry a great source of inspiration, but it’s a physical object that can help support the plot in ways that an idea couldn’t.
And that makes all the difference in the world!
Visual media (pictures, paintings, etc.)
I know you’ve heard of visual story prompts, but they’re honestly one of my favorite types of inspiration.
There’s nothing like looking into the eyes of an unknown person and figuring out what their story is. Who are they? Where did they come from? What did they believe in? Etc.
Go to a museum (or do a quick google search) and stare at a painting by someone you’ve never heard of before. If it’s a landscape, see if you can figure out what it’s hiding. If it’s a person, ask yourself who they are, where they’re from, what they believed in, and why they’re in the painting or picture.
Then, write about it! You’d be surprised at how many ideas will come to you.
Another fun thing to do is check out old postcards or newspapers. Maybe a headline will pique your interest, or you may find a love story between a woman and her man, who’s off to WWII.
An image is worth a thousand words, so why wouldn’t you use them to inspire your works? I know I do!
Another great option is music. Sometimes, the melody or song lyrics will speak to you like nothing ever has before, or they’ll introduce a new set of characters or feelings that you can spin into an epic adventure.
I’ve found that fantasy or video game music gives me the best results, but you can find inspiration in almost any genre.
Maybe that dubstep song is playing at the club where your characters meet. Or, a charming pianist is performing that classical piece for royalty. The possibilities are endless!
Another benefit of using music as inspiration is creating playlists for your work. That way, you’re never without something to listen to while you write!
Locations are rife with story ideas, and you can make ordinary errands more fun by using the locations to inspire new ideas.
Take the post office, for example. Maybe, there’s a story about a man who’s trying to ship a small alien back to NASA. Or a woman who buys stamps to send letters to her secret lover.
You could also write about someone who works as a mail carrier in a fantasy setting and talk about their experiences.
Or, if the post office is too “normal” for you, think of more exciting locations- like the abandoned house down the street, a Ghost Town, or a train station at 3 a.m.
I promise you that wherever you are, you can find inspiration.
Like locations, you can often find story inspiration in the great outdoors. Find a spot outside and see what happens. Or, ask yourself questions, like:
- Why are the squirrels fighting?
- Is that large bird the head of a mob family?
- What kind of fairies live among the mushrooms?
- Do trees like it when people climb them?
- What if a mermaid tries to save the fish? Or gets caught by the net?
If you want a more modern, realistic idea, you could write about a nature lover fighting to conserve the rainforest. Or a greedy corporation that plans to dump toxic waste in a lake.
Nature is amazing. If you look at it hard enough, you’ll find something to write.
Finally, there’s no shame in working off something that people already enjoy. You can use your favorite movies, books, or video games to inspire a story, base it on the characters, lore, and locations, then go back and change the details later to make it your own.
Several writers got their start by writing fanfiction based on other works, and, if the universe is big enough (like with Marvel, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Elder Scrolls, Supernatural, etc.), then there’s no harm in adding one more unique scenario to the collection!
There you have it! Six ways to find writing inspiration in unlikely places, and I have used all of them at some point in my writing, so I know they work.
However, everyone has different tastes, and these suggestions might not inspire you like they do me. If that’s the case, where do you find story inspiration? I’d love to try it!