Research & Ideas for Authors: Three Things I Watch for Writing Inspiration
Writing inspiration is something authors always need more of. The muses are fickle by nature and we do our best to chase them down and squeeze the inspiration and ideas out of them.
My Writing Inspiration
We all have different writing processes, and inspiration comes from the most unusual sources. Yet jolting your mind to pour ideas out is something you should actively do. Once you find something that works, make note of it and remember it for the future.
I find visuals the most inspiring, closely followed by music. The right song can spark my creativity on its own, but adding the right imagery to it can have me drafting an entire chapter around it, or even an entire world. As visuals are most compelling, I put together the three most inspirational things I watch. All these make me want to write and help me refine my craft.
1. Anime – Series or Movies
Anime deserves its own mention here. Because it’s animated, I think is a great fit for a lot of experimental stories. It’s particularly great for fantasy, science fiction, or historical settings. While I’ve watched anime all my life, my current favorites are old school. Late 90s, early 2000s, or what I have come to think as the Golden Age of anime.
I find these inspiring because of world building, character development, and the amazing stories they tell. Nothing like Neon Genesis Evangelion to show you what it means to take a genre, push its boundaries till they break, and create a story so unique, it creates a cult. Think George R.R. Martin fans waiting for the next book, only worse.
Or, if you’re more into the medieval/fantasy scene, I wholeheartedly recommend Berserk (the old series and subsequent movies). The new series… well, not so great, but it’s still Berserk. If you hate yourself and want to kiss your free time goodbye, forever, then you can read the manga first. So far, I haven’t really managed to find a more compelling and ambiguous story, with so many shades of gray it makes your mind reel. And I’ve never seen a better use of demons and fantastic beasts, or the supernatural in general.
Another anime I want to mention is Cowboy Bebop. I was reluctant at first, but the boyfriend—who is also quite passionate when it comes to the art of storytelling—convinced me to try it. And I fell in love, of course. I’ve never before seen an anime series where each episode is so different, you don’t know what to expect. Yet the series itself makes sense, follows clear story lines, and the characters become more three-dimensional the more you watch. It’s a lesson in writing groups that are not banded together just because the plot says so.
2. Visual Novels and Interactive Fiction/Games
Part story, part game, and a touch of “build your own adventure,” these types of combinations always inspires me. I’ve seen some that are extremely strange, and others that are just meh. Yet there’s something about an interactive story that makes me think differently of my own writing.
If certain choices a character makes are so important, they could forever change the course of a story, am I doing them justice? Does thinking of the story I’m writing in terms of critical versus casual choices a character makes alter how I want to tell said story? Or is every little twist I’ve written in inconsequential?
Like movies, TV series, plays, visual novels and interactive fiction represent a different medium. They suite a certain type of narrative. It wouldn’t work for a novel, but it does always inspire me to think more carefully about those critical moments that alter characters forever.
3. YouTube Videos. A Lot of Them
I’ve cut down my TV and movie watching time a lot. Other than an occasional movie night and watching one TV series or anime at a time with my boyfriend, there is no time. What free time I have or those working hours that imply repetitive tasks and that don’t use much of my brain, those go to YouTube.
My favorite type of content is educational. I watch videos on philosophy, medieval castles, martial arts, medieval weapons, science, travel and more. If they can help me better understand an issue I am writing about, or a theme I want to build a story around, then they are added to my watch list.
Another important type of content I watch revolves around crafting stories and building worlds. I watch videos by other authors, game developers, movie makers, comedians, and more. The way they approach the stories and world they want to write or create is always inspiring to me.
Then there’s the stuff I watch simply because I like it. Make up, nails, anime reviews, gamer channels, those are just to relax and unwind. Yet they somehow managed to inspire an entire series: Famous on the Internet. I know you’ve only had Br0th3rly of that series so far, but there are at least three more planned.
These are only three of my writing inspiration sources. I’ve added them to a larger mix of experiencing, reading, and watching things that keeps growing. But more on other sources in future posts!
I keep ideas and inspirational sources everywhere. Some are saved in my browser’s bookmarks. I have stuff saved in Trello, and I also have notebooks with ideas. Everything from quotes, things to look up, things to watch and so on.
Where do you find your writing inspiration? Do these ideas make sense to you? Or do you think other avenues are better? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!
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