Inspiration?

So a lot of people ask me where my inspiration comes from. Where do I get my ideas, how do I decide what happens to each character?

Well it really depends on what day it is and what part of the story I’m writing about. I’ll explain a little bit more in-depth as we go…

First off, Lia’na, one of the most beloved characters I’ve ever written about was actually based largely on my wife’s personality. She can be feisty, independent, and very saucy at times, so I did the best I could to emulate that in my story. The result was a very multi-dimensional character that got pretty decent reviews. So character creation can really depend on experience and emulating the people around you, it’s not a must, but it is one way of creating their personalities.

Of course this basing them on people you know and love comes with it’s own set of problems. As the character grows and faces adversity, it can be hard to do anything that injures the character. This is because often times when you’re envisioning the character experiencing hardships, it’s not too much of a stretch to see the person that character is based on in the same situation. Without giving too much away, this is why I struggled so much with Tears of the Fallen. One of my cousins said basing that character off of my wife was an epic mistake… and now I see why. So all I can say is be careful and try not to let the person your basing the character on know that your basing it on them. It can lead to an uncomfortable situation if you put the character through hell.

So that covers character, but what about plot points?

Well to be honest, the main plot point: Love, tragedy, revenge, etc. I always have ready before I ever get started. I know what the story is going to be about long beforehand. Often it’s a different take on a plot I saw in a movie or a game I played, but just as often, it’s something that just randomly popped into my head. Once I have that, I can begin writing. I have a library of characters to work chose from that I’ve already created in my mind it’s just a question of whether or not the story will fit them (Tersa, your day is coming, I promise!!!)

So what about the secondary plot points? Say the death or dismemberment of a character, or a change of heart…
My answer there is music. Yup, it’s that simple, when I’m writing, I listen to a lot of music. To me it’s not the lyrics as much as the melody and the notes chosen by the singer…

Let me give you a few examples… (Warning!!! I’m a metal head!)

Rhapsody- March of Time

Listen to the opening female vocals and the chorus line. Listening to the overall mood and tone made me picture a bittersweet memory, like something you look back on fondly, but that also causes you a good amount of sadness. After coming to that realization, I made the decision to kill of a character in one of my stories and to put a lot of emphasis on how that person’s death affected the other characters. That alone helped set the stage for a third adventure that I hadn’t even counted on.
Into the West – Peter Hollins (I’m more partial to this version than the original.)

This is one of two songs that I listen to when I’m dealing with intimate moments. This song helps me write about loving care, like when a character is in pain and another character is trying to comfort them. See how it fits?
Russel Crowe – Stars

Okay, before anyone goes nuts, I know how people feel about Russel Crowe’s performance as Javert, and no, this is not my choice version of the story. I prefer the Irish rendition starring Jeff Leyton. That being said, there is something… touching about this version of the song. Ignore the lyrics, listen to the melody and the music in the background. To me, it sounds almost like a lullaby. I’m sure that everyone will think that this is crazy, but this is what I listen to when writing a part dealing with mentoring or parenting, and honestly, it fits perfectly.

Other songs I listen to for inspiration for things like fighting scenes or finales include:

From one of my favorite bands ever:

As well as a plethora of things like Dragonforce, Luca Turili, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Ancient Bards, and Fairyland. Things like:

So now that I’ve increased everyone’s playlist exponentially (you’re welcome), I have one more to show you. If you’ve read my explanation of where my inspirations come from and you’re still scratching your head (don’t worry, you’re not alone), then I have a little exercise for you:

This is, in my opinion, one of the most fantastic musical numbers that somehow no one knows about! Start at the 2 minute mark, close your eyes, and listen, just listen. See what pops into your head (aside from this scene from the movie). What do you picture happening? What does the song mean to you? When you hear the tone of the music, how does it make you feel and if you were to create a story around it, what would it say?

Anyway, I hope this helps and hopefully gives other writers or writing hopefuls out there a few more tools to work with!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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