Creative Inspiration — What is it? A question I get a lot (and other writers, too, I presume) is “Where do you get your ideas?” Let me fill you in on my personal process.
First comes the seed, right?
A week ago, I detoured to run errands on my way to work. On the corner by the Max stop was a street busker. He was nondescript dusty brown from head to toe — unruly brown curls, beard, wearing stained tan bib-alls and hiking boots that had seen too many miles.
All in all, he was a good looking kid, maybe in his early twenties. The only splash of color was the red bandanna he’d tied around his throat.
He was playing a banjo and singing some song or other. It didn’t seem impressive enough for me to pop my earplugs out, so I kept walking.
A half hour later, errand complete, I returned to the same Max stop and the same busker. Things had changed, however. Now he held a ruby red accordion, one he played very well.
He belted out this rough growl that had to have been heard three blocks away (even with downtown traffic), sounding so much like the old style blues masters. He gave that song everything he had.
How could I not stop, turn off my iPod, and give him a listen while I waited the Max? Not only did I do that, but I dropped all the money I had in a hat before him. He paused in his singing (but not the playing) to thank me in the same mild voice he’d been using the first time I passed through.
As my train arrived, I put my music back on. And I wondered.
What kind of woman would sing and live like that?
Let it germinate
That’s it. Nothing more. I have a main character, though I’m not certain who she is or how she fits or who will come along to play off of.
Taking my knowledge of the homeless youth culture (dated, I know, but at least it’s something), I know that college and high school kids hang out with them on weekends and during the school breaks. Some eventually end up running away to live the street life.
Perhaps my second main character will be one of those — a college girl, first time away from home, becoming enamored of Our Heroine.
Since that initial character inspiration, I’ve seen or noted a number of things that may be used to help it along.
First off was my running across this video:
I didn’t watch the entire thing, but the couple living in an old school bus caught my eye. Now I know that my accordion playing street kid lives in a converted bus.
Who knows how she got it — maybe she’s crashing there with two or three other people and they’re all working on it together. Street busking can pay well enough to feed you and have extras if you don’t need to cover rent and utilities.
Then I came across a book description on Pixel of Ink. (Sorry, can’t remember which one it was. That was days ago!) I really can’t recall what the story was about. I didn’t care enough to read it, actually. What caught my eye was the word “fairies.”
My street kid is an urban fairy!
If you read my writing, you know I can’t write fluff too well. No, if this kid is a fairy, it’s going to be a real one — one with the trickster mentality and the powers that go with it.
Which means I have to do some research.
I don’t want to fall into the same category that the majority of urban fantasy writers have, either. My character isn’t going to be a fairy from the traditional European point of view.
I’m thinking a sprite of some sort from India. Or maybe the Phillipines. Guam?
Something dark, something Grimm (pun intended.)
But what about the plot?
Maybe she’s running from the Queen of Fairies (or the suitable equivalent depending on the mythos I liberate her from.) You know what came to mind then?
Charileze Theron as the Wicked Witch in “Snow White and the Huntsman”
… Yeah, baby! That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
Creative Inspiration – Ongoing
As of this writing, I still don’t have a plot or a solid secondary character. Sooner or later I’ll see some woman or catch a cool article that will introduce me to an intriguing concept that I can use.
It’s just a matter of time.
A friend at work said she’s not creative like me, and I argued the point. I don’t think I’m all that imaginative.
No, really. I’m not that imaginative!
I do have patience, however, and that seems to be the way it works for me. I also picked up a skill in a college art class. Take two completely different things and put them together in a picture.
I just do it with stories.
And so can you!
How did this post strike you? Click below on the comment box and leave me a message! Do you have a way to grow your creative inspiration? I’d love to discuss it with you!