I have a fun inspiration tactic today that’s very flexible and can work for everything from extreme sci-fi to literary fiction, for short stories and six-novel series. I like this one for two different uses:
- When you are in the middle of a story and can’t figure out where to take it
- When you are trying to start something but have no ideas
This one is especially useful for visual people like myself, who have strong imagery either in their prose or in their heads when they’re writing.
method #2: picture it
For this one, you need a random image generator. Depending on what you’re interested in writing, you might use different sources. For literary fiction, short stories, and even YA, I like to use the Flickr Last 7 Days feature. Usually that one comes up with a handful of landscapes and then some unique, artsy photos that might present the perfect concept to launch an idea. If you want something a little more out-there, like for fantasy or sci-fi perhaps, the deviantArt Random Deviation Generator might be of more use to you, or if you’re more concerned for image quality, check out the Daily Deviations.
I like to pick a number or a chunk of images and write out a few sentences for each one, although for you it might be better to focus on one image and write a few pages, or write a paragraph for each, or maybe even combine multiple photos to form an idea. It’s up to you!
Another way to use this method is to get yourself out of a rut in a story you’re working on.
A photo of some crumbling stairs in an abandoned building might suggest that your characters go exploring to dig up relevant history, or a photo of a storm might help you realize that forcing your travelers to seek shelter might introduce some interesting new characters and situations. A photo or drawing of a person might inspire a new character. Thinking of how to weave the subject of the piece into your existing story can force your mind to take the storyline in directions you might not have thought of before.
I find that my biggest hang-ups in-story come when the story isn’t conforming to my expectations. That’s the best time to realize that you don’t have to stick with your original concept, and that a big change might make the plot more exciting, unexpected, and interesting. Don’t be afraid to take things in a totally unexpected direction. The worst thing that could happen is that it doesn’t work out and you wrote some unnecessary pages. Call it practice, go back, and try again!
Do you find images inspiring? Have you ever based a story on a picture? Tell me in the comments how you use images in your writing!