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May
24
2013

Character building

in Fiction Writing

photos

Photo by vierdrie on www.sxc.hu

I am often asked where I get the ideas for my stories. I’m a visual person. When I’m working on a novel or short story, I like to make a collage to keep me connected. I need to see the story before I can write it. For me, that means keeping an ongoing world of people, places, houses, and pets at my fingertips. I then use these visuals to help me fall in love with my story before I even start.

Girl meets boy

Often when I start writing a new story, I’ll flip through my characters and grab two. Then I ask myself how a blonde nurse named Samantha might meet a brunette forest ranger named Mark. The story then develops around the characters. Soon I mix in the minor characters and toss in some stressors like exes, lost jobs, a family death, or a move. Boom! A story is born.

If these walls could talk

My second way to attack a story is from the setting. If I run across a picture of a house that I absolutely fall in love with for its beauty, its intrigue, or its uniqueness, I’ll stash it. Sometimes these homes become my inspiration. Perhaps the home has a secret. Has someone died there? Have five generations of the same family lived there? This is the way I invision Poltergeist starting. The story was the house, and then the writer moved people into the house and built the story from there. I have a nice collection of places I can’t wait to write about.

Stuff it

Finally, I have a collection of things like images of treasure chests,unique pets, and vehicles. If the treasure chest inspires me, I may hide it in the basement of an old house and toss a couple of newlyweds in and let the discovery begin.

As a visual person, my collections inspire me. They help the plot and the characters come alive in my mind.

Your turn

What inspires you? Are you a visual person? Maybe music and phrases inspire you more? Tell me about it. Comment below.

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