Where a writer gets his or her ideas is apparently a hot topic. Obviously, fiction writers need to have a good imagination and creativity to spare, but the source of the inspiration is pretty varied. Dreams, true events, childhood experiences, even a mystical muse, can all get a writer working on a project.
My ideas mostly come from music. My entire concept for these books came to me because two songs played back-to-back on my iPod one day driving my daughter to school. It was as simple and straight-forward as that. In the first chapter I talk about how sometimes Callie gets an idea for a song all at once, like a high-speed download into her brain. Well, that’s basically what happened to me. The first song gave me the idea for Callie herself, and the second created the scenario for the plot and built more on her as a person and introduced the second main character (who I JUST got to write about for the first time – FINALLY! – the other day and I’m so pleased to start getting into his head at long last). In about eight minutes, I had a whole new world in my head and all these people started talking to me.
The rest is minor details, and like I’ve mentioned before, some stuff I’ve written doesn’t occur to me until I start working through a scene. Other parts have come after copious amounts of research. But the basic story arc all came about because of the whim of the shuffle algorithm.
With that I started looking to some other songs I like to fill in holes or describe relationships or certain scenes, with interesting results. Usually it’s a matter of just listening and waiting for the right song to come up. Sometimes it’s as little as one line of lyrics, others it’s the entire song from beginning to end. And there are definitely specific songs that I think about when I’m describing some of Callie’s work – a detriment to me because eventually I’m going to have to come up with some original lyrics for her, and that’s hard to do when you’re already fixated on something someone else wrote as your inspiration. Nothing beats the car for letting new ideas come to me, although now that it’s getting warmer out, I’m hoping walking can replace a lot of that.
When I’m writing a scene that has a song that inspired it, I usually put it on repeat – like I described in my last post – to keep my head in that emotion I’m trying to convey (I’m often prone to distraction, sadly). The second song of the original duo I’ve listened to over 250 times since I started writing, according to iTunes, and I have a nice little playlist built up with a bunch of songs that have triggered something for me.
Everything else comes from idle daydreams, but without those two songs coming up one day in February, I wouldn’t be on this adventure today. It may not be a typical path for a writer to take, but I’m going to run with it and see where it takes me.