One of the most frequent questions a writer receives is “Where do you get your inspiration?” The answer to that for most authors is varied. Personally a lot of my novels or the worlds they take place in have been inspired by history. Sometimes it’s an old or obscure culture, sometimes it’s a specific event. I normally go far from the original thing that inspired me, but it’s a good jumping off point for ideas. Once your characters are fleshed out they can constantly inspire you also. Even though they are just constructs good characters react to things in ways even the author may not expect, creating future plots and ideas.
That’s good for the overarching plot but what about specific details? If your protagonists are in a fantasy world and travelling a lot, you may have to come up with a few dozen cultures/cities/tribes in a very short time. You could once again “steal” from other sources like history or repurposing other fictional characters (take Boss Hogg and put him in a Ninja culture and boom, instant interesting character) but after a while it might feel forced or repetitive. Many fantasy worlds are almost exactly like ours, with some serial numbers filed off and one or two minor changes to food or dress. You can normally figure out which ancient culture they are and after seeing most of “Europe” you expect to meet the “Scandinavian” culture of the world and like clockwork you do, three chapters later.
When your normal inspirations take away your predictability you must do something to leap out of the rut you have created. Something perfect for new ideas is finding a way to be inspired randomly. My new go to resource for that is the random button on Wikipedia. You can get an insanely wide spread of ideas from people, from cultures, art, and ideas. In the current book I am writing, two of the characters need to go to a place to retrieve something. I knew the plot ramifications from this, I knew the thing to be retrieved, but I had not fully fleshed out where they were going, as it was not as important. All that was necessary was that the place was exotic, and differed greatly from where the characters originate.
I clicked on the random button and got a country, an article about an energy activist, and information about a type of rock. My mind began to create order from this chaos, and I thought about what could possibly connect those three very diverse Wiki articles. I let the three ideas stew in my mind for about twenty minutes, and a great new location was born! You still have to create the ideas and write the scenes, but a tool like this is a great way to use random information to guide you.
My personal writing style probably would not allow me to use this to create over arching actual plots. Most of my plotting is either generated from how the characters react to the situations they are in, or are thought of in advance to guide the story. However there are still parts of all novels that are not thought of until specific scenes are reached, and using this can help with those “mini plots.” Honestly any way to randomly generate information can help. You could flip through a large book like a dictionary, random searches on google or even flip on the TV and go to three channels if you wanted to synthesize something. The important thing is as a writer your mind is already good at finding connections between unrelated things, and this just a great way to jump start this process.
Last I checked last week’s poll was tied, or within one vote of being so. This means I honestly do not know yet if I am going to take The Fall of House Nemeni off of its exclusivity with kindle or keep their one last time.
This poll will be on Mandatory Paradise. It’s twice the size of Fall of House Nemeni, and self-contained. Due to the size I was thinking of pricing it at 4.99 (still less than commercial paperbacks and any fast food meals not bought off the dollar menu). Besides the size of it, if I don’t it will feel weird pricing my next book at 3.99 also. However, I don’t want to “price” this book off of peoples casual consideration list.
Should Mandatory Paradise be:
Since it is the book coming out shortly, I will once again focus on this world. The main religious ceremony of Nimoa, the island this takes place on, is the sacred Bull Dance. Twelve Priests and Twelve Priestesses “dance” with the bulls. This is highly ritualized and include using “labrys” sacred axes that are found covering the labyrinth in the city’s walls. The goal is not to kill the bull, but to move with it.
As said in a previous blog the clergy raise energy to work their miracles through dance, and this is a dance that most of the island participates in. The energy drawn that day sustains most of the citizens so they do not have to eat for the next month. Part of the reasons this island is Paradise is because no one ever goes hungry, as long as they show up at their monthly dance.