Friday, November 10, 2006

Where I go for inspiration –

A really common question writers get asked is, where do you get your ideas. Many authors have developed witty, cute responses to this, but me, I actually sort of know, I can usually pin it down and God help the person who asks me, because they might get an answer that will bore them to sleep.

95% of the time, I get my ideas, from the movies, or my husband, who lately, has been throwing incredible concepts at me left right and center. I am a lucky girl. And he can cook too…

Some movies just make me think of a whole host of different ideas, characters, ways of playing with plot structure. And it’s not necessarily the best movies, or the most well written either, in fact, some Molly has ridiculed me for loving.

The most recent movie is Serenity, which is playing on and off on one of my movie channels. I LOVED this movie, but then again, I loved the TV show, and whenever I see even ten minutes of this, I’m reminded of how shaking up an old concept, giving it a different setting and a great cast of supporting characters can really revitalize a genre. Like the Western, which this movie is, just one set in space.

Or the Long Kiss Goodnight, not a great movie, but another movie I whole heartedly loved. The scene where Geena Davis comes out of the water while being tortured and tells the bad guy he’ll die screaming. Pure cheese, but I know I can attribute many of my ideas on both character and plot to that movie. (Whether that’s a good or a bad thing, I’m not sure)

Lots more movies have given me great ideas. Ideas that go in a completely different direction than the movie. Films like Le Femme Nikita, From Hell, Aliens, History of Violence, Whale Rider, these are movies that give me ideas for concepts and guide me in what tension should be. There are tons others of course, more than I could possibly mention here.

What movies have given you fodder for the next book?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm more of a music gives me ideas person. I find I'll be listening to a song and a line will catch my attention. From there it usually grows into a scene, then a plot. They don't always work, but I've gotten a lot of ideas that way. I also get inspiration from dreams I've had. They normally have to be a reoccuring dream for me to remember them, but they've spawned many good book ideas. :)

Sinead M said...

Nice, yours sounds so much less like copying other people's ideas then mine...

I can't remember my dreams, even the recurring ones.

Movies are what works for me. I think I work off of visual cues better than anything else.

Maureen McGowan said...

Great topic Sinead! Of course the most obvious one for me right now I'd rather not say in public until the book is finished. :-)

I definitely look to structure in movies for inspiration. Plus, good dialogue and tension. How to show things about a character. Short Cuts springs to mind (both for structure and well developed characters).

Other very inspirational movies to me (this is going to be a funny pair) The English Patient and Clueless.

I think both of these were good movies (in their own way). The English Patient really inspired me to see how profoundly something can be edited/changed and still retain its essence... Anthony Mingella is a master. (He has a new film coming out soon, Breaking and Entering) that I saw at TIFF.
Clueless kinda the same thing... I loved how Amy Heckerling adapted Emma for this movie. Gave me lots of ideas for adapted classic stories.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Same thing for me -- I wish I could say music or things I read in the newspaper (problematic since I don't have time for music or newspaper) anyway -- the things I find most inspriational are books and movies that come so close to getting it right---and then blow it. Sometimes I have a hard time really putting my finger on something that really works. The Departed was kind of that way for me -- I couldn't really pinpoint what made it so great -- but when something goes wrong -- oh it's such an inspiration. It's like seeing the wizard behind the curtain or something...anyway that explains my long defense of Kevin Costner films. I have learned more about sticking to story and ignoring ego by watching that guy screw up some really really amazing movies.

As for story ideas...I think it's that lightning sriking thing King talks about.

Anonymous said...

I get ideas from Movies and Music. Especially Celtic Music, like Lorenna McKennit or Lord of the Dance.

My first WIP was inspired by the Lord of the Rings. When I was a little girl I was influenced by the Princess Bride and wrote a totally crazy, unfeasible story about that. I also was inspired as a teenager by Dangerous Liasons or Valmont (both versions of the same thing).

I think my biggest inspiration for my current WIP (not my NaNo) is the Phantom of the Opera. I'm one of the goofs who wanted Christine to go with the Phantom. I've seen it live on stage 3 times at the Pantages, and the movie with Gerard Butler is great too.

Does being inspired by hot British guys count too?

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