Some writers have great quippy answers: the idea fairy dropped it on my keyboard, 1-800-ideas4U, the idea store down at the mall, I call my mom, www.ideafactory.com. You get the idea.
But the number one answer is: I dunno.
The truth is, ideas are everywhere. Anything can inspire a story. Anything can trigger a writer to ask: What if? And sometimes a writer will be able to tell you exactly what inspired a story idea. Mine frequently come from movies. It’s not that I copy a movie, it’s the characters that get my muses rockin’ and rollin’.
My first book, The Devil of Kilmartin, was inspired by the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. Yep, I wrote a dark brooding Scottish historical romance with a mystical healer because Beauty and the Beast inspired me. Really. That time it was the Beast that I loved, and Gaston. A wounded hero who everyone fears and a bully for a villain. It got my creative juices flowing.
My second book, Charming the Shrew, was inspired by the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. The main character, Kat, charmed me. She’s a difficult girl who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, and yet, she has a good heart. I always wish I had the guts to tell it like it is, but alas, I’m much too polite (my southern grandmother taught me well!). Anyway, my heroine, Catriona, was my starting point. I wanted a shrew who could be softened by love. And since I hate the idea of “taming” a woman, I put a twist on it and had a Prince Charming hero, thus, Charming the Shrew.
My latest idea came while I was sleeping. Not a dream… at least I don’t think it was a dream. I just woke up in the middle of the night with the word doppleganger clanging in my head. I woke up this morning thinking about that word and ideas for a story have been crowding my head ever since. Once I get a basic idea of the main character I’ll go in search of a movies that use a similar type of character. Hopefully I’ll find one that resonates with the story forming in my head and I’ll be able to use it as inspiration when the going gets tough. See, it works both ways — ispired by a movie, or inspiration supported by a movie — at least it works both ways for me.
Now here’s the greatest thing about using movies for inspiration: when you are slogging through the middle of the first draft and you are asking yourself why in heck you ever thought this story was a good idea you can take a break and watch the movie again. You can touch that inspiration again. This is what my BFF Pamela Palmer calls a “touch stone”.
So where do your ideas come from? Have you ever had a touch stone to re-inspire you?