Saturday, 7 January 2017

Writing Inspiration

I sometimes get asked how I come up with the ideas for my stories. Sometimes they just pop into my head and away I go, sometimes they are inspired by a writing prompt. However the novel I'm currently writing came about as a result of a conversation in my gym.

I was sitting and enjoying a cup of tea in the gym, chatting to a friend when the conversation turned to what we were reading at the time. We often chat about our reading and share opinions about our books. I can't remember what we were reading at the time but we got on to the subject of being a reader. We discussed how we felt as readers when the narrative went somewhere we didn't expect or even agree with. As well-read people we had both had that moment when you want to shout 'No! Don't do that.' when we disagree with the direction the story is taking. It might be a character dying or falling in love that we disagree with; it might be the narrative taking a dark turn; it might be the sudden appearance of zombies or aliens. What ever it is as a reader I feel let down and short changed.

So we chatted about that for a while, sharing examples from our reading where we had not agreed with the writer about the way the narrative was going. One of us said ' Wouldn't it be great if the reader could make sure the story went the way they liked instead of where the writer wanted to take us?' And a spark went off in my mind: what if the reader could influence what happened in the story? I thought about this for a while and came up with a scenario where there is a book in which the story changes due to the intervention of the reader. I then wondered what would happen if the characters in the book became aware of the influence of the reader; how would that affect them as characters? And the germ of an idea was starting to be born.

Nothing came of it for a while. Then NaNoWriMo came along and I needed an idea for a story. I went through my writer's notebook and came upon the sentient characters idea. It seemed like something I could work with so I decided that this was my framework. As NaNo got closer I worried about what I would write. Having the idea itself wasn't enough; I needed some bones to hang the story on. So I started to think about what genre I would write in. I normally write modern fiction - contemporary settings, 20th century characters for example. Yet something about this idea leant itself to fantasy. After all, the idea of characters and reader interacting is fairly fantastic! So I bit the bullet and began to write a fantasy novel.

Surprisingly things have gone well so far. I 'fell' into the fantasy genre without too much trouble; the characters arrived with their own voices; I managed to wrangle the plot out. Everything seems to be going well and I'm now at the point where I need to bring plot threads together and decide how to finish the story. It's been an easy write so far and I'm pleased with how it's gone as a first draft.

All from a chance conversation at the gym!

No comments:

Post a Comment