Thursday, September 30, 2010
Location, Location, Location!
I've come to the conclusion that whoever said writers lead isolated lives, was full of horse crap. I admit, it's not the most social occupation, but any writer who lives like a hermit must be either brilliant or insane. The imagination is like any other part of your body, it needs fuel to make it run. Staring out the window at your neighbors old broken down car...not so inspiring.
I used to think my dream was to live in an isolated cabin in the woods with my faithful dog Kenobi, and write novels all day....That was my big plan all through high school. I got the dog, (though he's no so much faithful as...brainless) but I quickly realized I was afraid of bears, the dark and being alone...so my plan had a few flaws. Looking back, I don't think I would have had much luck even if I didn't have all these phobias.
Getting inspiration for an idea can come from almost anywhere, driving past an oddly worded sign, watching your kids at karate class, going for a hike or canoe ride, a trip to the mall or driving past a house and thinking, Oh my f-ing God! That house would be amazing for a character who... But you have to get out and see, do and hear things. Hiding in the house, being a hermit isn't going to do you much good, and sadly, neither will going to your day job. Sure you can write a few stories about an ad executive or a receptionist but eventually, your work place and home town is going to feel as boring in your writing as it feels to you after living there for a while.
You want your readers to experience new things through your writing...but in a lot of cases, that's going to come through so much clearer if you've experienced it or seen it yourself. Try writing about camping without ever having gone...it's not easy. Hell, packing for a camping trip isn't easy if you don't have experience. (you always forget something, usually a lighter and a can opener)
And now I'm rambling LOL. I'd love to be able to go to exotic locations and write awesome stories set there, but sadly, money is always an issue, so I doubt I'll be writing anything set in the Australian Outback or Fiji anytime soon. (so depressed about this, BTW) but there can be some great stories inspired by a trip to the zoo (ever noticed the zoo workers have great legs, sort of like UPS drivers?) or a visit to a pumpkin patch (usually they have hay mazes and stuff too that can inspire creepy halloween stories)
I don't know if I had a point. Too much tea (and a cafe mocha from Timmy's) has made my brain jittery. I guess, the point is, to be open minded about what's close at hand. A story set in Bermuda would be nice, especially right now since it's so freaking cold out, but you can make a fabulous plot out of a less exotic location. That being said, I am not going with my husband to the dump to unload old shingles. I'm pretty sure my imagination wouldn't find much of interest there...
Anyone got any stories to share of how a simple trip inspired a plot idea or character?