Monday, September 13, 2010


I've been asked numerous times to explain what inspiration is and how a writer goes from inspiration to a full idea.

Recently, I found the perfect visual explanation.

In this film clip from Royal Wedding, Fred Astaire is waiting for his dance partner who hasn't shown up. He starts with inspiration--replacing the dance partner with the coat rack, then he begins to play with and expand that inspiration through experimentation of what does and doesn't work.

When he reaches the point that he's done all he can do with the coat rack, he moves on to the different pieces of gym equipment to see what they can improve on the idea.

None really add to the essence of inanimate object as dance partner so he returns to the coat rack and completes the conceit with the end of the dance.

In the same way, a writer starts with inspiration, plays with the possibilities of that inspiration, expands those possibilities to see what does and doesn't work, then adds that idea into the structure of the scene or story.

Of course, none of the staring into space we do while playing with an idea is nearly so cool looking as Astaire with his grace, but we have just as much fun with our mental leaps and flourishes.

MAKING A BETTER MONSTER: Speaking of inspiration, the Syfy Channel now has a series called BEAST LEGENDS where a group of experts create a probable version of a mythic monster by using real world animals, inspiration, old stories, and real world logic. It's like a master course in writing a better monster. It's on Thursday night at 10 PM ET, and it's also available online. Last week's monster, the kraken.



Magic, Monsters and Amour: Creating a Believable Paranormal, Fantasy, or SF World. October 4-31, 2010 at October 4-31, 2010 at

Are vampires, fairies, and space aliens real? If you create the right background for your paranormal romance, they will be to a reader. I'll show you how to create a fantasy or paranormal background from scratch and how to make it utterly believable.

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