Let's talk about inspiration. Every writer gets asked, "Where do you get your ideas?" at some point. I know that for me the question is hard to answer because there is no one answer. Below is just a partial list of things that have led to stories for me.
- Song lyrics. I've got a vast music collection and enjoy the challenge of taking a song and letting its mood or subject inspire me. There's a meme I like to play of asking my friends list to name 2 to 9 actors, and then I use the next song to come up on shuffle to give me a plot. I've created over half a dozen plots that way that will eventually, knock wood, be screenplays or books.
- Tarot cards. Aside from my three contributions to Torquere's Arcana line, I've also used plotting methods from Tarot For Writers to help me develop plots and characters. Sometimes I start completely from scratch; sometimes I use them to help me give existing ideas shape and structure.
- Prompts. On Livejournal there are many communities where you can request a "bingo" card to give you ideas. Most of these are geared toward fanfic, but there's at least one geared toward original fiction, and you can request a card of all romance prompts or one with romance mixed with other subjects. While I've yet to complete a card (too many ideas, not enough time) my original-fic bingo card inspired an idea that I hope to complete later this year, on a subject that scares me a little to tackle: homelessness. We'll see if I can pull it off.
- Names. I like to go through my name books and write lists of the names I like, and sometimes two names beside each other are enough to make me think, Hm, that looks like a couple. I wonder what their story is...
- Pictures. The idea for The King's Diamond was born from two sources: the traditional meaning of the diamond birthstone, and the final page of my Treasures of Ancient Egypt calendar that hung in my kitchen that year: King Tutankhamen death mask. Ever since I was small I've found the story of King Tut to be very moving and sad, and while I was brainstorming for a plot I thought, What if I had a young king in a similiar situation, only this time he had something to protect himself with? What if that something wasn't an object, but a person? The theory of King Tut's murder has since been disproven, but I'm still pretty happy with the story it inspired.
- Characters. Sometimes characters just sneak in and demand their story be told. Something Beautiful came about because while I was editing Chiaroscuro for submission I realized I wanted to tell Micah's story, and he would need someone for himself: thus Dune (a name I'd had for a character for years with no idea who he was or what story could be told about him) was worked into the plot.