Inspiration for Writers

Readers always ask writers, “Where do you get your ideas?”
Ideas for novels can come from anywhere. The inspiration for my paranormal romance series arose from a ride at Disney World’s Epcot theme park (Epcot = Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow). In World Showcase stands the Norway pavilion and a ride called Maelstrom, one of the best attractions in the theme park, in my opinion. You board a boat and enter a dark tunnel up a steep incline. At the top, staring down at you, is a glowing eye. The boat takes you into a misty forest where a troll pops up (or is it three trolls? I don’t remember). This evil character casts a magic spell on you to “Disappear…disappear.”
Suddenly, you are whisked backward through time (and literally backward as well). Then the  boat glides past a series of historical panoramas depicting Norse history. But then, uh oh, it appears as though your transport is about to plunge over the edge of a waterfall. Instead, after a slight turn, your boat does plunge downward but at a much less scary angle, landing with a splash amid oil rigs at sea. You’re back in the present and disembark at a seaside village.
From here, guests are herded into a theater for a film about Norway. Here’s a tip: if you do not wish to linger, walk directly past the seats and out the door on the opposite side before the film starts. You’ll exit in the shops and can browse the expensive wool sweaters, fanciful troll dolls, books, and jewelry. The Norway pavilion also has a sit-down restaurant and a fast food café. A little known gem is a tiny museum with lifelike figures depicting ancient kings and warriors.
From this experience was born my fictional Drift Lords series with a band of warriors who come from outer space to save Earth from an invasion of Trolleks (my term for trolls), who arrived through a rift between dimensions (think Bermuda Triangle). They join forces with a group of Earth women whose special powers are just awakening. An ancient prophesy says history is repeating itself and Ragnarok, the destruction of the universe, approaches and only our heroes and heroines can prevent disaster.
My story is based on Norse mythology. I bought some books at the Norway pavilion on Vikings and Norse gods, studied up on the mythology, and watched some movies involving trolls. By now I’ve completed two books in this trilogy with one more to go. I put that aside to work on later because I’m working diligently to finish a mystery, first book in a new series, inspired by a reader at one of my book signings who said, why don’t you write a mystery about xxx−and so I did. Again, inspiration hit from an unexpected place.
Where do our ideas come from? They’re out there. We have only to latch onto them and turn them into our fictional worlds. And world building is a topic for another time.
So fellow writers, what inspired your current project?
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14 thoughts on “Inspiration for Writers

  1. I’m actually in between projects right now and looking for that next inspiration, but Mother Not Wanted was inspired by a Murder She Wrote episode. In the episode, there was a woman who was raising a boy as her own, but she was not his mother and she had no legal claim to him. I created a similar situation with Amber and Lizi in my tale and introduced the concept of Amber taking the girl back to her rightful family.

  2. I write historical (19th c American) and the pages of history are stuffed full of inspiration. My inspiration comes from military reports, newspaper clippings, you name it. Since my goal is to write a series of novels based on Arizona’s history, often Arizona’s overall history itself is inspiration as I try to think of stories that fit in certain time periods.

  3. It was for a workshop. I tried a tip – to take a non-fiction book, open a random page and choose three words at random.

    University. Lamp. Students.

    From there, I created a quest – Three students and one professor who traveled a Renaissance-era fantasy world to fetch a lamp (with magic).

    That led to the world I’m writing in, now, with a god who loves to meddle. He’s currently sending a fourth prophet out into a fairly modern world. What would a modern person do if his God gave him a task?

  4. It was for a workshop. I tried a tip – to take a non-fiction book, open a random page and choose three words at random.

    University. Lamp. Students.

    From there, I created a quest – Three students and one professor who traveled a Renaissance-era fantasy world to fetch a lamp (with magic).

    That led to the world I’m writing in, now, with a god who loves to meddle. He’s currently sending a fourth prophet out into a fairly modern world. What would a modern person do if his God gave him a task?

  5. I entered a contest, last minute on a whim and had less than a day to come up with something and everyone had the same three opening lines to work with and it was zombies. Now- I don’t like zombies and generally I find them to be rather boring and flat dimensionally so I tried to come up with a way to zing it up a bit… I decided that it was ZOMBIEs and that it was an acronym: ZOMBIEs – Zeno Organic Meta Biologic Inter-dimensional & Extraterrestrial specialists

    Basically the ZOMBIE Squad deals with any kind of critter in time, space, inter-space, or even from space.

    Then I followed James’ Art of War for Writers and decided the best way to get going was to work on my book blurb and then curbed it down to a mini blurb:

    The world’s ZOMBIE population just shifted into high gear. Chaos rages as Jaz drives into an apocalypse in the making between mankind and Earth’s ancient & modern squatters.

    I took second in the contest and am currently developing the ZOMBIE Squad now.

    Zombies? Who knew?

  6. I read an article a few years ago about Columbian drug cartels using subs to smuggle drugs into the US. I knew I wanted to have a hostage situation in my story so I came up with the idea of smuggling a nuclear bomb into the country using a sub. Add a heroine that was out to kill one of the terrorists and an analyst that happens to find proof of the sub entering the country and viola, I had a story. I’m currently working on something a little bit simpler now though.

  7. Same here. Bits and pieces from all over.

    One example: The lead character in my Middle Grades novel has a sleeping disorder. He falls asleep for one hour late each night and then cannot return to sleep. While asleep, he cannot be awakened. It’s a superpower and weakness all in one.

    It’s based on a real-life student I taught a few years ago with the same disorder though I’ve changed a few details. It’s neither insomnia nor narcolepsy but something in between with aspects of both.

    My novel is about a teen detective so I’m sure you can imagine how well this melds with a variety of plot points making them far more interesting.

  8. Timothy, you raise a good point that a TV show, or movie, can inspire a story of our own.

    BK, history can inspire stories too. I imagine you have lots of material from Arizona.

    Suelder, cool idea! I’ll have to try that one.

  9. Chaco, your series sounds cool. And it points out how every one of us could start with the same plot thread or three lines and come up with all different stories.

    John, news articles are a good place to start. I keep a file for clippings on interesting articles and many have inspired suspects, if not whole stories, in my mysteries.

    Daniel, that’s an interesting disorder, and it reminds me of a drug incompatibility I learned about in nursing school that ended up in one of my mysteries. A teen detective with a sleeping disorder, now that’s original.

  10. I get inspiration from all sorts of places – those I visit for real and those which exist only in history books. I often find biographies of real historical people fascinating and far more unbelievable than fiction ever could be! Unfortunately there’s no husky voiced hunk whispering in my ear though…jeez, better get a new muse!

  11. There is a post on my blog about the seven basic plots; overcoming the monster, rags to riches, the quest, voyage and return, comedy, tragedy and rebirth.

    Some of the greatest stories have one or more of each of these plots running through them, rising and falling at different stages to make one great epic.

    Other great stories have a fairly basic plot but make their magic through the characters.

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