Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: Some writers are inspired by character. Some fall in love with a particular setting. Others write stories based on a recurring theme or message. Still others have a soft spot for genre tropes. Where do your stories start? Does a character pop into your head and demand a story, or do you have a vision of an abandoned castle on the Scottish moors and need to set your story there? Are you struck by a passionate desire to tell a story about justice, loyalty, or courage; or do you just want to write something that lets you write an awesome confrontation or reveal scene? What gets your creative juices flowing first?
Jamie Wallace: This is a tough one, because, most of the time the combination of elements tumbles into my mind at almost the same time. For instance, I was hiking in Acadia a couple of years ago and came up with the idea of writing a story set in this beautiful area of Maine, featuring an eccentric and slightly prickly bar owner whose establishment is threatened by a giant corporation, and dealing with the theme of right vs. might. I honestly can’t say which element came first.
Having (finally!) read Stephen King’s book On Writing, I think that my inspiration might come more often in the “situational” form he describes – the “what if?” scenario. In those cases, all the initial pieces of a story appear more or less simultaneously. Usually this happens while I’m half in a daydream or reading some random article or news story. My brain just connects the dots in an unexpected way, and I’m off and running.
Lisa J. Jackson: Most of my stories start with at a specific moment in time – a snapshot. In fact, my favorite writing prompts are photographs, particularly b&w images. There is one very specific moment captured in a photograph and stories evolve from that. These generally lead to 3rd person or omniscient point of view stories.
Most times my stories come from snapshots in my mind, through dreams. Sometimes it’s me looking at the moment as an unbiased bystander, other times, it’s from the perspective of the main character – I’m looking out through their eyes at a moment in time. This leads, generally, to 1st person stories.