Monday, March 3, 2014

Writing Inspiration: Science & Dreams

Anyone who creates anything needs inspiration. Flying inspired the Wright brothers, Lisa inspired Da Vinci, and a tower inspired Eiffel.

In March, the Cabinet is going to post about our writing inspiration. It's true that writers are inspired by anything and everything, and even the idea that maybe none of it really exists at all. Obviously there's no way we can cover every inspiration. But my personal favorites thus far have been science and dreams.

I love learning about current discoveries and inventions and pondering the what-ifs. Science headlines this very day are these:

Giant Virus Resurrected from Permafrost after 30,000 Years
This 500-Pound Metal Suit Can Take Humans To New Ocean Depths
Scientists Can Now Control Flies' Brains With Lasers

At first glance these articles might seem to lend themselves only to science fiction, but that depends on where your what-ifs take you. Sure, to a writer, that virus could turn into a pandemic and an insecure biophysicist's mad race to cure it. But it could just as easily become the story of a family who escapes the crisis by living in the remnants of a beached submarine and focus on relationships, claustrophobia, and the meaning of life.

That's the point of inspiration. It sparks the story you will write, but you are the one that builds the fire, and fans the flames.

I'm currently working on a novel called Prophecy about a newly called priestess of the sun who becomes the target of a murderous conspiracy. It's not science fiction but the idea hatched from a news story announcing that the fault lines under the Temple of Delphi in Greece were proven to release actual hallucinogens. This led to my own research. The Oracle was in operation anciently for centuries; she turned the tide of wars, democracy, and even wielded authority over kings. Neighboring lands gave great tribute to these women making them wealthy and free in a misogynistic society. How did this sacred sisterhood pull it off? Did they believe in their powers of perception, and if not, what were they really up to?

So, yeah. Science. It inspires me.

I know it may seem trite after Stephanie Meyer, but if you're a colorful dreamer, you have an ocean of inspiration to explore. I don't have much to say here other than if a scene or an emotion or a character pops up in a dream that you would like to get to know better, by all means do it. Explore the idea. It may melt into nothing, or it may turn into a novel. Both have happened for me.

Other novels inspired by dreams? Misery, by Stephen King; Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson; and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach. The subconscious (or wherever dreams come from) is a powerful force. (I stole this list of books from here.)

Whatever inspires you, make sure you want to stare at it, analyze it, and live with it for a very long time because inspiration is just the beginning. Faith will carry you through the long haul to completion...but that's probably a topic for another blogpost.


  1. I'm always inspired by history. Especially the history between the wars, so to speak. The "little" stuff that often build to war unfortunately.

  2. Okay, I really want to control a fly's brain. Seriously, I'd make all the cluster flies in my house zoom outside where the hungry birds could eat them. Love what partly inspired your WIP. So cool!

  3. I want to see Pat controlling flies...that's what sounds fun to me. ;) But seriously, I love your sources of inspiration and also really love where your brain went with that inspiration! That's what is amazing and cool to me--the way each writer is unique, and spins a story precisely their own way. Great post!

  4. I want to know the history of controlling flies brains with lasers, and whether or not if it will work on my kids. And if it was developed for just such a purpose.

    Sheesh! Sorry about all the typos. That's why I don't write at night. ;) I think they're fixed...