Monday, November 20, 2017

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

One of the more frequent questions I get from readers as a paranormal romance author is how I came up with the idea for whichever story they're most invested in. What did I start with? The character? The world? The plot?

I know this is different for every author, but for me, almost always, a series starts with a specific scene. However, thinking about it further, it starts even before that.

I am a fan of a good story in just about any format - book, movie, spoken, etc. I love to lose myself in the world and the characters. One of my favorite activities for my imagination is to invent new characters who I plop down into the middle of my favorite stories - just in my head of course. I've thought of a daughter for Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, a love interest for Sirius Black in the Harry Potter series, or just a random person who comes along after the story ends and picks up where things left off. Often I am inspired by several ideas from several sources - mashing them all together to create something different.

As an example, Blue Violet and my Svatura series got started--with several inspiration points. I loved the idea of a shifters in general. I combined that with different people having different shifts (rather than all the same), like the animagus in the Harry Potter series. Next I pulled in Malificent from Disney's Sleeping Beauty--adding a dragon. However, I didn't want anyone with magic to be able to easily figure out how to shift, so it needed to be an inherent ability.

As frequently happens, I then reinvented my initial idea several times using a series of "what ifs". What if my character could do this, or that, or the other? My new character started adding animals to her list of shifts. Because one animal is good, but more animals... better. At first they were all flying animals - I kept the dragon and added a falcon, a hummingbird, and a butterfly.

For those of you who've read Blue Violet, you can probably guess that my character eventually turned into Ellie. She kept the falcon (and maybe the dragon too ;) ) and added a jaguar and a wolf. I mean, if you're going to be able to shift into multiple animals, might as well make them powerful ones. Right?

But just having those awesome morphs wasn't enough for my character. I had to give her something to do with them.  I usually like stories where someone has a bad ass ability that no one else knows about. When they finally reveal that ability, it's a big deal. And that's how the initial scene I mentioned came about. I had my character protecting a group of people she knew but who didn't know what she was. From afar of course. And then she is forced to reveal who/what she is when they are actually attacked.

Can you guess which scene this became in Blue Violet? Yup - the scene where Ellie turns into a jaguar (after being a falcon) and fights the wolves who attack Lila, Adelaide, and Nate.

And that was the start of Blue Violet. From there, I had my own unique world and set of characters who I already loved--they needed their own stories, leading into a full series. But the inspiration came from sources that already sparked my imagination. I found the same situation has happened for each of my series. Ideas floating around that morph into a single scene and the series develop from there.

Authors, what about you? How do you find your inspiration?


Diane Burton said...

Where? So many different places. Something I read in the newspaper or heard on the news; a movie or book triggers a "what if"; a science tv program; internet research. Obviously, I could go on and on. The best ideas come in that twilight between awake and sleep. Maybe my mind is more open then to the ideas that swirl around in the ether. I love that you can pinpoint where the ideas for a specific book came about. Wishing you much success, Abigail.

CJ Burright said...

A butterfly shifter - that's awesome! My inspiration comes from everywhere and nowhere...other stories I've read and heard, dreams, people I know and don't know, random thoughts. There's just no end to inspiration if you're open to it. Great post, Abigail!

Maureen said...

Great post! It's hard to pinpoint my inspiration, it does really come from everywhere. But the start of a new story is usually a single sentence and often ends up as the first line.

Tena Stetler said...

Reading your post was like reading my inspiration . I have a habit of creating characters then what ifing ( is that even a word) them into a scene then other characters join in and on the story goes. Excellent post!