Currently listening to: Centuries, by Fall Out Boy
First off, I want to announce that I (finally) made an author page on facebook, found right over here. Feel free to ‘like’ me over there. As my novel gets close to release (and once it’s released), I’ll probably be doing some things over there.
Now, then. Let’s talk about inspiration. Some people have a really set method for how they look for ideas. They watch people at the mall, or think about characters they like from other works, or they draw from people they know…
I’ve never been too good at that. Part of the reason for that is I have a nasty habit of killing off characters, and there are more than a few people I know who would take it as some kind of passive-aggressive insult if I killed “them” off in a novel or short story. And in all fairness, it probably would be a passive-aggressive insult. 😛 So generally speaking, I don’t like to draw too much from real life. No inspiration coming from there.
In fact, inspiration never really comes from anywhere when I’m looking for it.
For example. I’ve been working on the sequel to Songstruck (details about publication for that work will be posted on my facebook page today, and I’ll probably do an update here about it sometime) for…well, I started it while I was in the first editing stages of Songstruck. So over a year, now? But I still haven’t made very much progress on it. And it wasn’t a matter of not knowing the plot–I know where I want the story to go, including quite a lot of the smaller details. I’ve got chunks of dialogue written for scenes that take place all over the course of the story. What’s been bothering me, though, has been the main antagonist. I like him, and he’s…less a villain and more of a troublemaker. But I haven’t been able to get a good handle on what he’s really like. In the broadest possible sense, he falls more into a borderline-malevolent “trickster” category, but beyond that, I was stumped. What was his real motivation? I knew part of it, but I also knew that there had to be something more; something to explain a lot of his behavior toward the main character. And his personality! Did I want him to be likeable? Did I want him to have a crueler bent? It’s been something I’ve been struggling with for months. No matter what I tried, no matter where I looked, I was simply not getting any ideas. I was thinking of scrapping the idea entirely, even though I’m so clear on the story itself.
And then inspiration hit. How? Well, between work and the classes I’m taking, I do a lot of commuting. Hours and hours and hours in the car every week, just me and my iPod. As you might guess from what I’m listening to today, I like Fall Out Boy. It’s one of those bands that I liked when I was younger–junior-high–and I can’t quite keep myself from continuing to listen to them. I mean, yeah, I started listening to them somewhere around a decade ago…but they’re still making music, and they’ve aged a decade, so…why not, right? Anyway, one of Fall Out Boy’s newest songs is called “Immortals”. And yes, it’s from the Big Hero 6 soundtrack. The very first lyrics of the song are as follows:
“They say we are what we are, but we don’t have to be. / I’m bad behavior, but I do it in the best way.”
I’m bad behavior, but I do it in the best way. I knew those lyrics; I mean, I had been listening to that song for a few weeks. But one day, on my way to class, something clicked. I restarted the song to hear the lyrics again. Again, that line caught my attention. I could practically hear my main antagonist saying that. Or rather, thinking it. I doubt he’d come out and say it. Right away, he snapped into focus. In fact, the more I listened to the song, I realized that those weren’t the only lyrics that fit him. I don’t know if the song was just worming its way into my mind for long enough, swirling around with thoughts of what to do about my antagonist, and it just finally combined, or what. But wow. I’ve never really had a big “burst” of inspiration, where I feel the urge to leap to my feet and shout, “EUREKA!”. Not until that moment. Of course, I did not leap to my feet out shout, “EUREKA!”; I was driving, so it would have been horribly unsafe to do something like that.
If you’ve had moments like that–moments where suddenly something just fell into place for you or you managed to find a solution to a plot point that’d been giving you grief–let me know in the comments! Or tell me where you look for inspiration!
Sidenote: When I was babysitting last night, the kids (6 and 9 years old) were blasting “Immortals” through the speakers in their living room. I’ll spare you the description of just how bizarre it felt to go from my car, where I was blasting that song, to in the house, where little humans less than half my age were blasting the same song. And singing along. I couldn’t figure out whether I should have praised their music taste, or worried about my own.
Pft. What am I saying? My music taste kicks ass. 😛 I’m also gonna admit right now that I also still listen to Panic! At the Disco, because Panic! At the Disco is still awesome.