Saturday, August 7, 2010
What is inspiration?
Is it something that gives you ideas to write about? You can say that. But I think inspiration is the idea.
It is that awesome idea that makes you write a book about it. It's an idea that you like. Have you ever heard the phrase "write what you like to read"?
This phrase is very true. The problem is that many early writers don't know what they like. How is this possible? Simple.
A person can watch a movie and like it. However what was it that they specifically liked about this film? An early writer might be able to mention a few things, but not all of them. Some might just say something like, "The movie had good twists." Alright, but what made the twists good? What was twisted? An early writer will not consider this.
That's why some people start a book and stop writing halfway through. They stop liking the book. They probably never liked it, just enjoyed the the thrill of writing, and were hoping that they would soon get to the good part. But if they weren't writing about what they like, then there was no good part for them.
So inspiration, is an idea that you like, and that you want to write about. Often it is an idea you have concerning one of your favorite themes or plots. It is often an original look at theme or plot.
So how do you find your inspiration?
Well first you have to know what you like, and why?
There's a simple way of doing this, that I will do demonstrate during this post. I recommend you do this exercise as well on your own time, because what you may like might be different than what I like. (Though I have no idea why.)
List some of your favourite movies of all time. Here are some of mine.
Godfather. Godfather II. Inception. Revenge of the Sith. The three older Star Wars movies. The Prestige. The Dark Knight. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban.
Okay. Now that we know what our favourite movies are. Lets look at some of the themes of these movies. My themes are,
Revenge: In Godfather, Harry Potter, The Prestige, The Dark Knight.
Redemption: Old Star Wars. A little of Inception.
Misuse of Power: Revenge of the Sith. The Prestige. Godfather II. Dark Knight.
The Parallels Between a Father and Son: Godfather II. Star Wars.
Family above all else: Godfather. Inception.
Obsession: Dark Knight. The Prestige. Inception.
So those are the themes that I enjoy. I like watching and reading about these themes, so I know that I will enjoy writing about them. If you want to improve as a writer, study your favourite films and see how they incorporate the themes within them. How do they show these themes?
You can also look at your favourite films to see what kind of characters you like. I seem to like characters who are powerful and have alot of influence. I also like smart calculating characters. I like villains who have mysterious pasts, who are powerful, smart, and a little creepy. Also the villains must stop at nothing to get what they want.
So now that you have looked at your favourite movies, you can look at your favourite books and do the same thing. Here are some of my favorites:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Wheel of Time books 1-5. A Song of Ice and Fire books. Warbreaker. The Name of the Wind.
From this I learn that I like books that have to do with:
Death. Hope. Learning how to be good at something. Doing the right thing. Accepting responsibility.
This means that I should also write about these things.
So now that we know what we like, are we inspired? No not yet. At least I'm not. I've seen the themes I like in hundreds of movies, hundreds of books. So what do I do?
I find a way to write about the themes in an original way.
Yes, its shocking, I know. But once I find that, I will have my inspiration, my awesome idea.
So how do I find an original way? I can't copy anything else can I? No, that wouldn't work. Or can I?
Most original ideas, are the combination of two or more very, unoriginal ideas.
I'll make something original right now, (or at least something I have never heard of before. Maybe you've heard about it, but in that case you're listening to the wrong things.)
So lets look at two of my favourite movies. Star Wars and Godfather Part II. One tells the story of a father, then his son, and then the father's redemption. The other tells the alternating stories of a father and a son, and how they both try to find their place in the world.
So how about I take the Star Wars storyline, and tell the past of the father, while alternating between the present of the child. And in the present the father is still alive, and a pretty bad guy. Since I like revenge, lets say his son is out for revenge against his father. He hates his father.
But as we see the flashbacks of the fathers past, we as the reader slowly begin to realize that the father was not always bad, but that certain unavoidable things made him this way.
We can also make these bad things happen to the son, who starts becoming villainous in the present. While his father, also in the present, will learn from his mistakes and become a better guy.
Then in the end of the book, I would have achieved a role reversal with the father becoming good, and the son bad.
As well, this is an idea I like, so it inspires me. Makes me want to write a book about it.
So try brainstorming all the things you like. Then try figuring out new, original ways, of writing about them. Once you do, you'll be ready to write. And once you start, you will be unable to stop.
Remember, Know what you like, then, Write what you like.
You got that? Good.