It is that time of the month again! Come join us insecure writers as we forge a path towards our dreams. The main point of the group is to connect, reassure, and support your author journey, no matter what it looks like. We meet on the first Wednesday of every month. Come on in!
The co-hosts we should offer our thanks to for July are PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, Gwen Gardner, Pat Garcia, and Natalie Aguirre! Go check in on their comment sections and add something if you feel so inspired.
And speaking of inspiration: this month’s question prompt is: 99% of my story ideas come from dreams. Where do yours predominantly come from?
This is a tricky question, because my story inspirations come from everywhere and nowhere and all at once.
Did that help? Didn’t think so.
Look, let’s be brutally honest here. Authors, as a whole, live in a half-unreal world ALL THE TIME. Fictional people fill our brains with ghostly conversations. Interesting, exciting scenes play out behind our closed eyelids whenever we get the slightest bit bored. Fantasy worlds and concepts capture our imagination. Reality is pretty much optional, okay. In the midst of all this noise, pinpointing the exact genesis of a story idea or the specific birth of one character is like grasping one tiny pebble from a rushing torrent of ideas.
Basically, being a writer means there are plots and story ideas and half-formed notions in the back of your mind for literal YEARS and it all combines with current ideas and interests into this constantly-bubbling SOUP OF INSPIRATION. It definitely burns your fingers when you try to fish out one specific idea nugget.
My short stories often come from writing prompts (such as the excellent Chuck Wendig does on his website for authors to work off). Those one-sentence taglines can be incredibly motivating, especially when they are totally off the wall.
My most recent series came from a ‘favorite tropes’ discussion I’d had with other bookworms on Instagram. Enemies to Lovers, of course, came up as one of the top contenders. Everyone loves a good spatting antagonists to hopelessly besotted plotline. For some reason superheroes leapt to mind. Probably I had just recently watched the final Avengers movie, that was a 2019 thing right? Several years before this I read (and ADORED) the novella Superior, by Jessica Lack and I think that novella added to the idea soup. Also I love the movies Megamind and Deadpool, and writing a protagonist in those veins has always tempted me.
Anyway, all of that mushed together and got me thinking . . . what if? What if two enemies in a superhero universe fell in love? The idea caught me hard and I started plotting it out. Who are the antagonists in a superhero universe? The villains. Even better, a supervillain. Having a superhero fall for a supervillain seemed too obvious, plus I’m fairly sure it’s been done already(?) So . . . what about a sidekick. Oooh, yes, a sidekick. Obviously, to be the loyal partner and not the main event, my sidekick would be considered kinda weak. Not too “super”. But, of course, narrative expectation told me the sidekick had hidden depths and more power than the big name heroes would like to admit. That gives me both a mystery to slowly unfold, and a motive. And my supervillain would definitely have a tragic past, because plausible morally-grey character motivation.
Every time I reached the next plot point, I asked myself what comes next? What makes my supervillain A Bad Guy, but not too bad? What power could my sidekick have which seems harmless at first glance, but is actually pretty threatening? What would attract a supervillain to a sidekick, and vice versa? Coming up with fun hero and villain names was a bonus, and I also got to throw in kissing on a Ferris wheel ride, murderous nanobots, public naughty behavior, mother issues, kidnapping, and a ton of sneaky callbacks to superhero movies.
And that’s how writing a book goes, at least for me. It’s a bit like . . . tossing stepping stones into a river boiling with ideas. Each stone brings me closer to crossing. Sometimes I have to haul a stone out and begin again, and I generally have to use dynamite to blast a bunch of stones for the climax, but eventually I do get to the other side.
Does this method seem familiar? Or sound completely kooky? What stepping stones do you use? Tell me about your process.