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Honest Inspiration

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by FatCat, Oct 24, 2016.

  1. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

    Hey all,

    For a long time I've been very anxious over what to write. I can imagine plots and worlds to dress them in but one concept has always leeched my faith in a work. Honest Inspiration. By that I mean interjecting personal struggles via a medium, in our case Fantasy.

    To me, and this may be romanticized, great fiction expresses a distinct footprint of personality. The story tells something hidden within the author that is fleshed out as the chapters go by.

    When plot is written in self-reflection, in my opinion, is when prose ascends words into meaning. And here is my problem.

    Being self-aware enough to not only question your perspective, but build a narrative on experience.

    This is what's tripping me up. I'm 28 and have yet to feel any absolute feelings to fuel a story. I feel like anything I write is shallow and repetitive in the genre.

    So, first, does anyone else feel this way? And two, how did you break through that mental block if you did?
  2. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

    Hello Cat!

    First of all, I want to say that you are one of the people that I miss from the old days of Mythic Scribes. It's great to see you around, and it would be even better to see you here more often. I send you a great Hug! =)

    Cat, I understand perfectly what you mean:

    When a story comes to me, it always represents some kind of personal self-reflection or some part of my personality. My stories talk about not only my wild imagination, but they also portray parts of my very soul. This is reflected in many characters of mine, not only the protagonist characters, and it's part of what I call the Fire Inside.

    I have also called it Sparks and Clicks, and it's a very spiritual part of my life.

    Stories are living creatures, and stories without Sparks feel hollow and lifeless because they are missing that special ingredient. I would love to be able to help you more, but all that I can do is to tell you that this Fire Inside is something that only you can find inside of yourself.

    If you have not received it yet, then wait for it because the right moment is sure to come at some point of your life... This cannot be forced, and I promise that when it comes to you, and suddenly you have living and breathing stories beside you, the feeling is so good and so satisfying that you are going to be in love with it forever.

    This is my article about what I mean: Sparks and Clicks.
  3. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

    Old school scribes unite! I get what you're saying, there's a light to a story and it must be followed. I just wish I had the same dedication as you. Maybe that's where I fall flat, I try too much and smother myself in the process.
  4. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    Growing up... My Dad always seemed so big, so strong. He was a large man, but that didn't mean anything. The last time I saw him... I just remember how... thin he was. How weak. Yes, this has affected my writing. Yes, it still hurts.

    Don't go looking for these moments.
    Don't romanticize them.
    True art is suffering? **** that.

    Art, and yes I'm including writing under that, is about expression. You're saying something to your audience. If personal struggle leads to a stronger message it's only because it makes us SCREAM.

    Your work will reflect your personality anyways. It's inevitable. Maybe it'll only be a reflection of those quiet moments of everyday joy instead some great event, but it's reflection non-the-less.

    If that's not enough for you, then rather than seek some struggle you should reflect on yourself to find what makes you yell the loudest. If that's still not enough, then look around you, in both real life and fiction, until you find what you want to yell.
  5. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

    But what is the opposite of your caring? When will your advocacy be mandated?
  6. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    Well, I don't think you need to have experienced some truely giant feelings for this to work. The trick, as I see it at the moment anyway, is that you'll need to find what moves you in your fears, dreams, ambitions etc. and then essentially crank it up to eleven and set into your characters. Something that works very well for me is music. So I'll give you a tip about what I listened to and what came out of it.

    Read this - it isn't long
    Translation: Ja Nus Hons Pris | Silence de Cherbourg

    Then listen to this - not very long either
    Ja Nus Hons Pris by Owain Phyfe - YouTube

    And this put my inspiration into moment and out comes a tale of treachery, grevious mistakes, friendship, false and true, familial love and unforgotten grudges centered on a captive duke and his many mistakes that opened up for his enemies to get at his family and friends, and his anguish at what he's caused and how he might right his mistakes.

    So I would suggest that you might try to listen to some music that you like and see what stirs inside of you?

    Also don't worry about being repetitive and take a look at my signature. Better a good repetitive story than a original story that's unreadable and makes no sense.
  7. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    Having something to say. The theme helps you break through it. Focus on delivering a message.
  8. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

    I get what you're saying, but at the same time read it as 'just do it'. But I can't just write for the sake of writing. The results make me not want to write another word.
  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Just about every writer I can think of, who has also made observations about inspiration, honest or otherwise, says the same thing: don't wait. I think it was Jack London who said you cannot wait for inspiration, you must go after it with a club.

    I can honestly say I was not inspired to write any of the stories I have written. Instead, I went after something. One story started being about goblins invading the Roman Empire. That is still the context for the story, but as I began writing I realized the story was more about how my characters dealt with that invasion. This led into courage and patriotism and choices someone makes when all the choices are bad. I never, not in a thousand years, would have discovered my theme had I tried to come up with that prior to actually writing. Other stories have different origins, but in each I moved from from the plot to the characters, and that movement came only through writing.

    In a real sense, I did not get inspired and then wrote a story; rather, I wrote a story and in the process got inspired.

    But it didn't happen automatically. In the goblin story I went years before I saw the story's shape. In more recent efforts, it has come more quickly. I think this is because of practice. I started to recognize how to develop the story. It involves a lot of asking why -- why does the character keep going? Why does she not simply run away? Why does this guy stay loyal to the MC? A hundred different questions, and it's not like you get an answer and that's that. It is, as they say, a process.

    Everyone is a newbie at some point. Age isn't the relevant variable. You can be sixty years old and be a beginning writer. The sixty-year-old and the twenty-eight-year old neither of whom has written a complete story (I define "complete" as being all the way through an editor) are both comparable newbies. Putting on years isn't going to help much. Putting words on paper will.

    All that having been said, it's also true that some people can write only when it gives them joy. I suppose one could call that being inspired. At any rate, such a person is writing more or less for themselves. That's fine. But the writing advice for that activity is very much different.
  10. Fluffypoodel

    Fluffypoodel Inkling

    Hi Cat,

    I'm also 28 and I can certainly relate to what you're saying. Sometimes when you're looking at your work after slogging through a messy plot or some stale characters you have to ask yourself the question of whether or not this story means anything. Why write it at all if it's just empty words floating on the page?

    I started writing a story in around 8th grade that was pretty much an RA Salvatore rehash. IT was an unoriginal plot with typical D and D characters right down to the corny names. BUT something happened while I wrote those characters, even when I was outlining. They took on personalities of their own and really started to come alive. I think back on that story even now with a sort of wistful Ness that makes me want to pick it up again, not because of some sentementality but because I personally connected with each of those characters. All of their triumphs and victories and betrayals, things that I have never before felt in my life. Perhaps it was just the younger me being able to be more honest in my writing, without all the crushing weight of expectation thrust upon me. I don't think about it as much as I should these days, I think we all get caught up in the present too much but sometimes it just happens and you need to look out or it. Maybe this sounds a little repetitive to the previous posts but I agree it them all. Sometimes you just need to write to find your inspiration because it is something g that you may never find if you don't start down the path and continue on that path long enough to glimpse the end.

    I hope this as helpful. Even as I'm writing this I'm considering my own motivations and inspirations. THANK you for posting this.
  11. bdcharles

    bdcharles Minstrel

    Hi FatCat. What things do you think about? What do you regret? What are the contents of your daydreaming? Take those day-to-day things that bang about in your head and put them to words. Resolve them there, play them out the way you wished they had gone, and if you can dress them up in fantasy garb then so much the better.
  12. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Two movie clips that sum it up for me:
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  13. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    And two (Some adult language in this one)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
  14. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    Of course, the most important part of the movie clips is not the cliche BS, but to remember: Johnny Cash never killed a man in order to watch him die, nor did he really ever do hard time (a few nights in jail is inspiration, not reality, LOL). But still, a great clip and a great song, although it's fed by a cliche speech in the film.

    The writers of Good Will Hunting, well that's a bunch of sentimental cliche written by 2 kids who never experienced anything either. What had Damon and Affleck experienced of any of this? Squat. One of the most over-rated movies of all time, IMO, but it demonstrates you need no great life experience to have success writing something, LOL.
  15. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    Sorry, I didn't mean it to come across that way.

    I'm sure the absolute feelings are there though. For example, the recent Clinton/Trump debates - there is real conflict there based on values and principles.

    Pretty much every news story is based on conflicting values.

    Now, politics and the news may not be your thing, but it does come down to identifying those values you feel passionate about, framing them and then when it comes to storytelling, executing.

    In my experience, identifying the core opposing values isn't usually the block, the execution usually is.
    Heliotrope likes this.
  16. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

    It might also help to take a bit of time to immerse yourself in different art forms and see what sticks. I often find inspiration in the weirdest places - a German documentary, some comedy or a book wildly outside of my safe reading preferences. I firmly believe that we need to shock our systems from time to time just to get things running smoothly again.

    New experiences don't have to be direct. Armed with a library card and a willingness to read, you can expand your horizons & learn from the collective wisdom and experiences that other writers have to offer.

    Try some writing exercises.

    If you want something profound try a bit of Literary or something foreign (whatever that means to you).

    Take a bus without knowing where it leads (it should loop back around eventually).

    Go to a new restaurant. Start learning a new language. Attend religious services for a faith outside your own.

    Look at the world through new eyes.

    Then ... come back to the blank page and see how that goes for you.
  17. Ronald T.

    Ronald T. Troubadour

    I find that I have to tap into my heart and soul in order to connect with what seems real and worth while when I write.

    The story, chapter, or segment, must be born of emotions that are powerful for me. In other words, I have to feel strongly about what I write, or it feels empty and lifeless.

    Every aspect of my story must tie directly to something that matters deeply to me, whether it be an action scene, dialogue, or narrative, it must touch on some aspect of those feelings that sparked the story in the first place. And by that, I mean I can only write about what I find important in my life -- that is, what makes me smile or laugh, what makes my eyes tear up until I weep, what fills me with rage or despair.

    It must matter to me, or how can I expect it to matter to someone else?

    I can only suggest that you reflect on your own life and personal experiences and sort out those things that have effected you most strongly during your life. Sometimes that's not easy. I know people who never quite know how they feel about what is happening in their own lives at the moment it's happening, and then can't begin to express what they feel about it after the event is over. That is a difficult barrier to breach if you're a writer. I've had close friends, and I have family members, who are just like that. But fortunately, they have no aspirations to be a creative writer. If they had such a desire, I suspect their path to becoming an inspired writer might contain a few more twists and turns than for those with instant access to deep-felt emotions.

    By no means am I saying they can't reach their goals, but that they might have to work harder at finding a more direct path to what they feel about the events in their life, and about the various emotions that are stirred by those events.

    Again, what inspires me is simple: my story must matter to me in some deeply emotional way. It must mean something powerful to me, first...or I doubt it will mean anything to someone else.

    Honest inspiration comes from the heart and soul. If it's faked, the reader will almost always know.

    Of course, that's just one man's opinion...and, ultimately, what the hell do I know?
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
  18. Ronald T.

    Ronald T. Troubadour

    A short explanation!

    By "Honest inspiration", I mean authors must feel a sense of joy and excitement about what they write. Inspiration can often begin with a small whisper in the back corners of an author's mind, but by the time the story is written and refined by intense editing, that whisper should echo with a thunderous, resounding blast. If the story doesn't move the author emotionally, it has little chance of doing so for the reader.

    At least, to my mind, that's the goal.

    But what do I know? I'm just a kid.

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