30 Day Writing Meme: Source of Inspiration

August 11, 2016 § Leave a comment

Day 30 → Best source of inspiration?

A huge source of inspiration for me is bad storytelling. By bad, I mean stories that don’t quite work for me in some way, not ones that are an affront to my taste. A good story may fill me with delight, and full, I won’t feel a need to add to it. A bad story will incite me to figure out what went wrong and how it would be more satisfying to me.

It’s a challenge, and challenges spark an urge to answer them. In life, I’m a fixer, something of an unhelpful trait in interpersonal relationships, but great for creativity.

It’s more than merely changing the ending. I’ve certainly done that to get over an excellent novel: after reading the final page of M. J. Hyland’s How the Light Gets In, I wrote for about an hour to create a hopeful future for the angsty protagonist of whom I had grown protective. I’ll plot out retellings of favorite fairytales in modern settings. I’ll find that a news article starts a story spinning out in my mind. Yet by far, it’s the stories that snag on my interest but don’t fulfill their promise that make my hands itch to write.

Creating a fix usually means taking a story down to its elements, then drawing all sorts of other things in to recombine and build up the elements I liked.

My best example of this is the epic fantasy quest adventure inspired while I was watching the first installment of The Hobbit movie trilogy. About halfway in, I had the realization that there were a lot of dudes in the movie, and wasn’t that kind of dated and odd? Sometimes, fiction from a past generation carries forward elements that seem strange from a modern perspective. A fantasy story with only one female character feels imbalanced.

Many fantasy novels (and tabletop role play games) draw on tropes taken from Tolkien. It started me thinking, what if there was an epic with the same tropes, but the characters were female? Just because? That seed of an idea has been planted into world elements I have been toying with for a while. I filled out the setting with the mythology of The 13th Chime, and placed it in the same geography, though centuries before Ciel and Jewel. It inspired me create backstory for the dragon Haxe from one of my short stories. Thus, I have the project Nine Warriors, in which farm girl Lirin gets pulled into a Canterbury Tales kind of pilgrimage with the mysterious old sorceress, Moss, and her fierce associates, on a journey fraught with peril and dragons.

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