Where do you get your ideas?
Every author everywhere has probably encountered this question at one point or another. I certainly have, in addition to several others I’ve had to deal with.
I think when people ask this question, it’s really a two-part query: 1) what inspires you; and 2) how did you craft your story to be so awesome? The second question is only a little easier to answer than the first—understanding story structure, character archetypes and all the things that make up storytelling—and then learning to subvert them—comes with years of studying the craft, reading and watching TV shows, movies, plays and more.
The answer to the first question is more amorphous, because there’s no telling where people might come up with their unique and fascinating takes on traditional stories, or whether their remarkable characters were inspired by real or fictional characters.
The truth is, none of us creates in a vacuum. We are bombarded by art and creation every day. Everything you touch that’s man-made was designed and made with a lot of thought and consideration given to function, aesthetics, and emotional attachment, each weighed differently. So, too, is writing.
This, of course, is all a fancy way of saying, “I dunno.”
Having recently become a fan of the TV show Doctor Who, I learned that Diana Gabaldon, author of the time-travel historical romantic epic Outlander, was inspiredby a character from the older Doctor Who TV series. Jamie Fraser, the hero of her books, which take place in 18th-century Scotland, was riffed off one of the Doctor’s companions, Jamie McCrimmon. Apart from the kilts and background, as well as the bit about time travel, the Outlander series and Doctor Who don’t share a lot in common. But knowing where such a bold and interesting hero got his start fascinates me.
I’ve written about how fan fiction inspired me before. But I’ve yet to transform any of my fandoms (including Doctor Who) into an original piece of fiction. Still, sometimes I think about the characters I have encountered, and think about the stories I have read or watched, and I’d ask myself: What would ______ do? That’s how I come up with plots twists and character development. Who would I most like my characters to become? Who would they never become? And how can I make this journey as difficult as possible, and possibly ensure they never reach their goal?
What are your favorite books, movies or TV shows? Have you ever researched or learned how the idea for the story’s concept was developed? Let me know in the comments!