Story Inspiration Sunday

A while ago, I did a post on writing inspiration. I listed the things that inspired me to get my butt in the chair and write.

This last week has been much more difficult for me to make that time–too much happening in my life, too much going on in my head. I didn’t write for a few days (I got really squirrely as a result, actually ended up having nightmares.)

What had happened to my grit? To my stick-to-it-ness?

Normally, once I start a story, it’s hard to stop me. I think about it all the time. The characters start talking to me every time I start doing anything monotonous, like going for a walk, washing the dishes, or raking up the gorgeous yellow maple leaves from the front sidewalk.

But this time, the characters were remarkably silent.

I still pushed on. I kept making myself sit down, but I’d find myself wanting to do anything but write. I’d play games on my phone. I’d journal to myself. I’d listen to music. I even watched a little TV on my computer (I don’t have a TV in my house.)

Taking a break just kind of seemed like the thing to do.

When I got back, I figured out the problem pretty quickly.

I was telling the wrong story.

I threw out the 4000+ words I’d done and had to start from scratch.

Now, after just two days, I’m over 2000 words in and the characters are talking to me and I’m seeing everything in my head and I can’t wait to get back to the story (after I finish, well, everything else I need to do tonight. I’ve already done my writing, but I may try to squeeze in a bit more time on it later.)

So what does this have to do with story inspiration?

Sometimes, the initial inspiration is wrong.

I had a story idea, but it turned out it wasn’t the right story idea. It’s a good story, and a good setting, and I may end up using it for a different character.

But this character, well, she needed something different. A different setting. I had to create a VERY different story than the one I’d been writing.

What’s funny–even though the location is different and the secondary characters are different, a lot of the sensory details are still the same: It’s still fall, it’s still cold, the sky is still gray and wet. Those are constant in the two stories.

All else has changed.

What inspired that second setting/story? Sitting quietly, getting out of my own way, and letting the character speak. I thought I’d been listening before, but I hadn’t been.

So what do you do when everything you’ve done has gone wrong? How do you correct course? What inspires you to keep going and find the right story?

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Story Inspiration Sunday — 2 Comments

  1. The hubby needs to periodically surgically remove me from the computer and take me away from the house. If I am in the house I will work, whether it’s working or not and get more and more depressed. But a day on the road, breathing different air, seeing different trees, eating food that someone else has cooked does the trick every time. One notable time I was so stuck it took 410 miles and $385 in collectible beer steins before I knew that if on page 80 (of 200) my heroine was already manipulating my villain, then he wasn’t really the villain. I started in a different place, found the right villain manipulating the other one, trashed 40 pages and added 60 more to get back to the place where I’d become stuck. Piece of cake after that.

  2. When I’m stuck on an outline I often find the best thing is to take the thing I think happens next and then invert it. I send the heroine into the market to learn something, but it sticks, so I instead send a dragon roaring over it and her scurrying away — like everyone else.