Finding Fictional Inspiration in the World Around You
By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer
Take a look at that chair on the other side of the room. What do you see, place to sit or something more? Maybe a magic portal? Or a relic from the past – proof of some prior king’s rise and fall or a princess’s narrow escape. Or maybe the chair is just a chair, but the cat seems to hold some secret. Or maybe you just overheard a funny comment from a kid on the street asking his mother where all the leaves go in the fall.
Maybe you remember a forest near your childhood home that seemed to burst with secrets. Maybe there was an old man who lived on your block, his mysterious actions causing controversy and conjecture in the neighborhood.
Or maybe you are just lucky enough to hear a cricket chirp on the subway…
Inspiration can literally strike at any moment. I’ve talked before about keeping yourself open to new ideas and unexpected revelations; to eavesdrop when possible, to go on Artist Dates, and to invest some time in your own narrative timeline. All of these tools serve as a sort of “mission prep” – readying you to receive creative notions and the seeds of story.
I stumbled across this blog post today on BuzzFeed (http://www.buzzfeed.com/babymantis/15-real-life-inspirations-for-great-stories-1opu) that I thought I’d share. It lists some of the real life inspirations for classic novels. For example, did you know that Narnia’s wardrobe is based on a real life version that housed CS Lewis and his cousins during long and lazy storytelling afternoons? Did you know that Tyrion, Cersi and all the characters of GRR Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice got their start as turtles? Or how about Animal Farm,; which grew to fruition in Orwell’s mind after he witnessed a young boy mistreating his horse?
There are stories everywhere – you just have to keep your eyes open.
Below, more examples from BuzzFeed:
- L. Frank Baum, the author fo The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, attended a much-despised military academy in Peekskill, NY – a town paved in yellow bricks.
- Oregon’s attempt to hold back invasive sand dunes with poverty grass inspired Frank Herbert’s Dune saga.
- Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and all the rest were real stuffed animals owned by A.A. Mine’s son, Christopher Robin.
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s origins can be found in a hole punch and a stack of papers.
- After saving the life of a pig, E.B. White went on to write Charlotte’s Web.
Now take another look around your room, your neighborhood, your childhood memories – what stories are lurking there waiting to be found?
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