inspiration

Book or movie person?

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Are you a book person or a movie person? I don’t mean exclusively, most people enjoy both but in my experience we always enjoy one a little more than the other. The balance may be close, but it’s always there. Personally, movies take the lead for me.

I get more inspiration when I can see the action taking place than I can when I’m reading about it happening. A movie enables me to get absorbed into the environment and characters more fully than a book does. When watching a character interacting with his or her environment, I can instantly see whether his reactions could be made better in some way. A book cannot do this. If you’re not clued up on psychology, it’s easy to make your characters less than believable when you have only your mind with which to ‘see’ his interactions.

Watching a movie takes no more than a couple of hours and you can watch it over as often as you want and examine every nuance of each character’s behaviour. In this way, you can watch and learn about how people react in a given circumstance much easier than by reading it. If a movie character seems believable, examining his every move, right down to subtle facial movements will help you when writing your own characters. If characters seem wrong, more careful examination will help you identify why and how they’re wrong and you can avoid making the same mistake in your own writing.

Too often, movies are met with disdain by purist book lovers but I say take the time to watch them closely and you might just learn something valuable.

Are you a book person or a movie person?

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Inspiration for fiction writers – Two Steps From Hell – Victory

Anything from Two steps from Hell is top of my inspirational music list. I can’t write with music playing as I find it distracting, so I listen every time I take a break. A little burst of inspiration every now and then. Hope you enjoy it.

I’d be interested to know where you find your writer’s block cure.

Creation inspiration tool – random word inspired story.

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I like to constantly challenge myself, to exercise my creative ability so that it remains strong and capable. I treat it like a muscle and assume it will respond positively to regular exercise and will keep functioning for me as a demanding user.

One of the ways I do this is what I call, The Random Word Inspired Story. I close my eyes and open a book, any book will do. Flip the pages and stop anywhere. Then I skim a finger over the page and stop anywhere. I open my eyes and whatever word my finger points to is my Random Word. Obviously, if I get words such as, him, her, and, it, etc I have another go.

This word then becomes the inspiration for a paragraph story.

Today’s word is, GLANDULAR

Troy thought back to when this all began. Six months, is that really all it was? It seemed like years since the first of the sick began to trickle into the local hospitals, all with identical symptoms which were at first diagnosed as Glandular Fever. That was before the death rate became apparent. Once it did, the medical profession realised that whatever they were dealing with here, it was not a simple case of Glandular Fever. Since those first news broadcasts announcing the outbreak had been aired, Troy had seen all but seven people in his local community perish, most of them within the first month. He and the other six quickly banded together, hoping to find strength and mutual support as a team and it was with an admirable but evidently doomed optimism that they set out to seek other survivors in neighbouring cities. One bus driver, a single mother with toddler, a liquor store manager, an overweight company director, a used car salesman, and Troy, a wheelchair bound veteran with fresh nightmares of world war three still keeping him awake at nights. Not the kind of group to inspire hope in times of trouble but it was all they had and Troy hoped their skill base would grow before they died of hunger, or worse.

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Hope you all enjoyed it and if anyone finds it inspires them, feel free to use it. To those here in the UK, have a wonderful Bank Holiday tomorrow. Be safe if you’re on the roads.

Who is in control, muse or me?

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People often ask me, “where do you get your ideas?”  My answer is always the same, “they just seem to drop in on their own.”  I know that’s not a very helpful answer, but it’s the truth, and I always tend to think of the ideas as coming from somewhere outside of me.  Whether it’s just creative energy floating around in the ether that just happens to land on my brain cells, or whether it’s being fed to me by the spirits of dead writers, or even if it escaping from another dimension that just happens to have strayed too close to this one, I don’t really care.

Many creative people talk about their muse as if it’s a person, and I’m the same.  Mine feels like a male, but maybe that’s because I’m a female and subconsciously, I know I need the male energy to complete me.  He doesn’t have a name and I haven’t given him one, but I do believe in him as male.  He’s fairly easy going most of the time, but he can crack the whip when he feels the need.  When he does, he’s persistent and won’t accept being ignored.

His method is subtle though.  If I’m ignoring him, he will bombard my brain with ideas, or a single idea, and no matter what I try to do, it won’t go away.  If I have a certain direction in which I want to take my story, and that doesn’t match his plan, it’s his way or the highway.  I can be typing away quite happily, then suddenly find myself typing stuff I had no intention of typing, with no idea where the idea for those words came from, and it’s usually the polar opposite of what I wanted to do.  I’ve come to realise that he knows best, so I always give in and let him  have his way.  If I’ve been resisting his push for a while, when I do finally give in and write, the story usually pours out like a tidal wave.

I decided a little while ago, to write some more short stories for another anthology, this time paranormal based rather than straight up horror.  I had a couple done, and had an idea for a third that kept banging away inside my head for ages.  When I finally sat down to write what I thought was going to be a short story of no more than 4k words, it quickly became obvious that His Lordship had other ideas.  He wants this to be a book, maybe a novella, but certainly NOT a short story, perish the thought.

This sounds like I’m complaining, but I’m not.  I love that the creative force is so strong and active and tangible for me, and I feel sorry for those who don’t feel that way.  I don’t know how I could advise those folks.

So who is really in charge?  The answer for me is two fold; either the writer takes charge and ignores the muse, or the writer listens to the muse and let’s them direct the story.  My personality is one that needs strong leadership and an active ‘hands on’ approach.  I need firm but constantly encouraging guidance.  I’m one of those types who would thrive in the gym if I had a personal trainer yelling at me all the time.  Sometimes I find it hard to motivate myself, so a strong push from outside of myself is what works for me.

I’m happy to let my muse be in control.  I trust him completely and never argue, it’s pointless to try anyway.  I always say that I don’t actually write my stories, my characters write them, and I just take dictation.  I find the whole subject of the muse, fascinating, and would love to know what your experience of it is.

Ideas and Inspiration – How do you find them?

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That moment when a fantastic idea for a plot line drops into your head is one of the most wonderful moments in a writer’s life.  On a par with that moment when you write “The End” or when you notice you’ve made another sale, when inspiration comes knocking, your mind explodes like a firework display.  Time stands still, everything around fades to mist, and your imagination suddenly takes off at near light speed as you see this initial idea suddenly grow and blossom inside your head.  I may be over dramatising it but that’s what it’s like for me.

As time goes on and I write more, these mind blowing moments happen more often and more easily.  I’m at the point now, where I can almost make them happen simply by looking at something with a certain questioning  attitude at the forefront of my mind.  For instance, just now I saw a commercial on TV that showed three women singing, (it was for insurance).  I decided to find out if I could come up with a plot idea, so I watched the advert and mentally asked myself, “what could I make out of this?”  Immediately, I realised that I could base a story around a woman (or man), who comes from a planet where their voices have a much larger vocal range than humanoids from earth.  This person could have developed their voice so that when they sing at the certain wavelength, the sound has a strange effect upon anyone listening, rendering them into a state much like that of light trance.  He/she could then either commit some crime and disappear, or commit a  crime and then continue singing on a different wavelength so that listeners would have no memory of him/her doing anything other than singing a song, thereby getting away with murder or some other crime.

That whole process took me less than ten seconds, and you can do it too, with a little practice.

TV commercials are great sources of plot ideas, because they are already little stories in themselves.  Next time you see a commercial, pay full attention to it and ask yourself a question – “what is the first thing about it that grabs my attention?”  In my case, it was the singing, but it could be the landscape, the way a person looks, what they’re doing, anything.  Whatever it is, remember it and then ask another question – how could I use that landscape/appearance/action etc,  in a story?  Of course, you will have to think in terms of your own genre, and maybe it’s easier for me as a science fiction writer.  I can invent stuff and allow some things that would not fit into, say, historical romance for instance, but the principle is the same.  Pay attention to what you’re seeing and hearing and ask yourself the questions.  This will teach your subconscious mind to practice being imaginative with less stimulus.

You can do this anywhere and in any situation.  I like listening to people’s conversations, and quite often I will hear something in the supermarket that gives me an idea.  Again, ask yourself  “how can that statement be used in a plot?”

Just to prove that this works for any genre, I’ve just watched a commercial for a supermarket chain.  It showed two very famous celebrities going shopping in a market, talking to the stallholders and admiring the produce (meat, vegetables, fruit, bread etc).  I asked myself “how can this be used for a romance story?”   Immediately I see two strangers, a man and a woman, going shopping on a rainy day.  The woman is stressed and is rushing to the market to find something for dinner.  The man is happy and is wandering around trying to find something for his dinner.  The man has just moved into the area and has great plans for his life, whereas the woman has a job she hates and is bored with her life.  They both arrive at a stall selling meat, to find the stallholder has just one fresh chicken left.  Both want the chicken, and the man, noticing how stressed the woman is, lets her buy it and goes elsewhere.  Later, the woman arrives home to her apartment to find the same man has just moved into the apartment next door.  They get talking and, well you can take the story from there.

I don’t write romance, I don’t like romance, but I have just come up with a perfectly serviceable romance plot from a TV commercial.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  All it needs is a slight alteration in the way you observe everything, and a willingness to mentally interact with what you’re observing.

Trust your subconscious, let it work for you.  You have the ability to be creative, all you need to do is access that ability.

A New Novel is Born

Now that Floxham Island ~ Sinclair V-Log AZ267/M is out, I can turn my attentions to my next two works in progress.

I have the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2012, Acts of Life to edit and proof read ready for publication in July 2013 and I’ve just begun writing a new novel featuring Sam Sinclair from Floxham Island.

Acts of life will be first of these projects you will see and features Jake, a famous movie star who agrees to work aboard an inter galactic freighter for three months as research for his latest movie role.  Events quickly take an unexpected turn and Jake finds himself and his new friends, stranded on a dangerous and uninhabited planet.  In a desperate fight for survival, not only from the indigenous life of the planet, Jake and his companions must also avoid capture by those intent on doing him harm.

The new Sam Sinclair novel, as yet untitled, sees Sam go undercover to find out the cause of seven mysterious deaths.  In the process he gains, and then loses, a great friend whose legacy ensures he finds an important ally in the future.

I’ve decided upon my plot line for this year’s NaNoWriMo, which will be published sometime in 2014.  This story is an epic quest involving a race across planets to save not only the protagonist’s true love, but also to save an entire planet from annihilating themselves in an unnecessary war.

Lastly for this year’s writing plans, I have ten short horror stories to write that will complete my planned horror anthology and hope to get it published this year.

I always like to have plots planned for a couple of books ahead as I have this dread of finishing a current WIP and then not finding another plot to work on.  Hopefully, by the end of 2013 I’ll  have eight books under my belt.

The secret ingredient

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This evening I watched Kung Fu Panda for the first time.  There was nothing else on and I was bored; bored enough to sit through a movie I didn’t want to watch but sitting through it was better than sitting here in silence.  Y’know, that kind of bored..?

Without going through the whole plot which is probably a waste of time because I’m likely to be the only person in the known universe who hasn’t seen it, there was a bit in the movie where he had to qualify to get a sacred scroll.  Anyway, he got the scroll and his kung fu master said it contained the secret ingredient to him becoming a true master.  When Panda opened the scroll it was blank; there was nothing on it at all.

It took him a while to get the point that there is no secret ingredient in life; that the secret ingredient is you.  You are what you need for ultimate success.  Belief in yourself is the secret ingredient.  Once he realised this, he was bound to beat the bad guy.

This got me thinking (I do sometimes) about how hard we all look for the secret ‘something’ that will make us more successful and our lives better in whatever way we feel they should be better.  We tend to put all the responsibility for our future happiness onto this abstract ‘something’ and blame our inability to find it or God’s refusal to bring it to us, or other people for keeping it from us or holding us back, or our unhappy childhood, our shit job or our spouse’s recent affair or our kid’s drug habit for the fact that we’re going nowhere.  Anything will do so long as there is something to blame for us not finding ‘it’.

‘It’ is you, me, us.  We are the secret ingredient to our future happiness and success and all we need to do is use it the right way.  For me it means taking responsibility for mistakes and making the choice to induce change.  It means breaking out of whatever cycle we’re stuck in; whether it be a cycle of abuse or social pressures from our peers, emotional baggage or lack of skills.  Break out of that cycle and make changes and start to use your secret ingredient – you, your mind, your innate intelligence and creativity.  Be brave as you turn your life into chaos to break those bad emotional habits and kick the negative influences from your life.  Take a deep breath and head out into the wilderness to see where that road leads, up where the river bends and the mist shrouds the hills.

All it takes is you.  Life won’t bring you that secret something.  Meditating won’t bend the universe and unlock the door for you (although it will calm you tremendously) and following the same old routine because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” won’t show you what’s up where the river bends into the mist.  You have to get off your ass and make the choice to go and see for yourself.

It’s scary, it’s exhilerating, it’s witheringly frightening and mind blowingly liberating.  You’ll be worried, you’ll be anxious and you’ll be fearful but most of all you’ll be so glad you did.

I’m going to do it.  Come on, let’s go see what’s up there, up where the river bends and the mists shroud the hills.

My Nano Encouragement

A couple of weeks before Nano began, I joined a Nano themed group on facebook. The guy who runs the group suggested we write ourselves a letter of encouragement and email it to him.  He would then email it back to us during the third week of Nano.  It would be a way for us to encourage ourselves during the latter half of what can be, for some, a really difficult exercise.

I thought his idea was fantastic, so I wrote my letter to my future self and sent it off.  Nano began and I quickly forgot about my letter, until yesterday when it arrived as promised.

As I read the letter I wrote to myself I felt a mixture of emotions, the main one of which was to wish that someone else had written that letter to me.  To have the belief of someone else must be a wonderful and heart warming thing.

I would like to share my letter.

My dear Merita

By now you are reaching the home stretch of NaNoWriMo 2012 and winning is just a week away.

Writing is such a lonely pastime and you are such a lonely person; you are ideally suited to it don’t you agree?  One could say that you were born an ideal writer.

Your creativity amazes me you know.  The ease with which you connect to the universal creative force and allow its energies to influence you is a great gift that many dream of and few can boast of.  You may not have as much education on the bricks and mortar of ‘good’ writing, whatever that may mean, but your words transport those with open minds to worlds they could never have imagined.  You build your characters with such authenticity, they really live.  They are real friends and your relationship with them is real, tangible.

When I look back on you as that isolated, silent child and see how far you’ve come I’m both amazed and proud.  Always remember why you write.  You write because your characters demand you do so, not as a way of getting rich.  Hold this truth close always and your words will always carry that ethereal and rarest of qualities – authenticity.  You have waited so long to get where you are now; at the beginning of an exciting creative path and how you’ve suffered as you waited.  Not a moment of that suffering was in vain for every painful moment has moulded and refined you and you have the richest of experience to draw upon and the greatest of ability to use that experience within your creativity.

Never doubt yourself on this new and exciting path.  Your words have the power to heal, to change people, to change worlds and open minds and hearts.  You must learn to judge yourself less harshly so that a healthy balance can be achieved within yourself and no one has a greater wisdom nor the ability to put that wisdom into words, than you.

When you first began writing and creating Vincent, you created your greatest friend.  He has waited from the beginning of time for you to write his story, for no other in creation is more worthy of the task than you.  He loves you very much, he is always with you and immensely proud of you.  He will always call you his friend.

Few in the living world know you and fewer still will understand you but fear not for you are doing what you were born to do.  You are fulfilling your own ancient prophecy and just as Vincent endured those lonely years on Vinbuk before the light began to shine for him, you too endure the pain of isolation.  He is by your side always, he hears your every thought and shares your every feeling and he will be by your side for every step still to be taken on your journey.  You are never alone.

I am so proud of you.  Hold your head high as you win NaNoWriMo 2012.  You are worthy.  You will always be worthy.

Merita King.

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I have already surpassed the required 50 thousand words.  I reached the 50k on Nov 12th and as my novel was nowhere near finished I’m continuing.  I’m currently at 65 thousand and probably two chapters from finishing.

I am pleased with my Nano effort and happy that what I’ve created during November will be wonderful addition to my portfolio of work.

I hope everyone else is finding Nano a valuable experience and learning much about their own ability and endurance.  Keep going, you can do it.

NaNoWriMo Update

It’s day 4 of NaNoWriMo and it seems that many of my contacts on facebook are taking part.  This is my first year participating and I must say I’m enjoying it very much.  It is good discipline to make yourself write every day and even if you don’t reach the 50 k you’ll have pushed yourself and learned a little more of what you’re capable of.

I’m doing okay with it so far.  My total stands at just over 20 k and I’m on track to hit the 50 k on the 9th November.  My novel will be longer than that though; I like my novels to be between 80 – 100 k and it would be super awesome to finish the whole thing in the month.  I’ve completed 4 chapters so far and the real action has just begun.

The only difficulty I’m having is actually nothing to do with it being NaNoWriMo.  I’m having a problem making my protagonist nasty enough.  You see, my main guy is not nice, in fact he’s a bastard but I am finding it a real job to make him horrible enough.  I love writing nice guys and I find them easy and natural but this character is proving a challenge.  As with all my characters though, he is building himself in the way he wants to be and I’ve learned not to fight my characters when they dictate stuff.  I let them have the lead and they know I will listen to them.  I may argue sometimes but they always get their own way in the end.  Jake isn’t a nice guy but I’m finding he’s building himself into a different kind of not nice than I envisioned at the start.  His not niceness comes from his own ignorance rather than any real malice; he is so up his own ass that he just doesn’t see what a prick he is and how he pisses people off.  He is building himself into a far more sophisticated kind of not nice than I thought he would be and y’know what?  I like the guy.

Another thing I didn’t plan or envision when I began was how much sex there would be in this book.  I knew there would have to be some, seeing as how my character is a narcissistic megalomaniac celebrity, but even I’m surprised at how often he ‘whips it out.’  This is definitely going to be an 18+ novel.

I’ve also been formulating ideas for the cover art and have a brilliant idea, which I’m not going to tell you about.  The last time I shared a cover before it was published, some other asshole chick stole my idea and published 2 weeks before I was due to.  My cover art guy had to race around looking for a new idea.  Luckily we found one and it’s  actually better than the one I had planned to use so all ended well.  So I’m keeping this idea under wraps.  This book won’t be published until mid summer anyway so there’s no hurry.  I have the fourth and final volume in The Lilean Chronicles series coming out in the first week of December, then I have a second of my novella series to write so I can publish the first pair as a single volume in spring of 2013 and then it will be time for my NaNo project to come out in summer.  I also had a full plot idea fall right into my head the other night as I sat trawling through facebook, so I be getting on with writing that once my first novella pair is published.

So all is well on the writing front here.  I just wish people would buy the books so I can eat and pay a few bills..!

Seeds of Inspiration

A friend on facebook asked me not long ago, “where do you get all your ideas from?”  A simple question indeed but one that is almost impossible to answer in a way people who aren’t ‘like me’ will understand.

By ‘like me’ I mean, well like me.  Let me try to explain.  I’m autistic, which means I don’t do the social thing at all well.  I don’t mix with folks effectively and I tend to quickly piss people off and if I do make a friend, I tend to lose it pretty quickly.  This means I’m alone for most of the time, both physically and inside my head.  You know when you have friends but they’re not actually ‘here’ at this moment but you know inside your head that they exist and they’re your friends?  You have an innate knowledge that you’re not emotionally alone don’t you?  Well I don’t have that.  I’m physically alone and alone inside my head too.  Now that’s freaking alone man..!

I also have major emotional baggage left over from an abusive childhood which means I have a trust issue.  Not something you want when you’re trying to make friends.  This also tends to add to my isolation.  I’m also physically unattractive so even if men did happen to overlook my other failings, the sight of me puts them off anway.  This also means I’m destined to remain just as alone as I am now.

All of this isolation takes its toll and not all of the effects are negative, for me as a writer anyhow.  I’ve developed an immense imagination.  Every moment I’m alone I’m living one of my internal fantasies.  People who see me may think I’m just shopping or taking out the trash but really I’m exploring the outer regions of some far flung planet, searching for the ancient truth stone that will save the people and show me my one true love who just happens to be mixed race, hugely muscular, clean shaven and hung like a horse.  I may appear to be driving to the store, or to my day job but really I’m on my way from my Los Angeles mansion to meet with my agent to discuss my latest appearance on the Ellen show and whether we could fit in a spot on Jimmy Kimmel the same day or whether we need to put that one back a week.  I may appear to be doing housework but really I’m searching the cargo bay of the intergalactic freight liner for clues as to the whereabouts of the hand written  notes that would prove that hugely muscular, mixed race, well hung hunk of a prisoner is completely innocent of those murders on Taxos 4.

You see what I’m driving at?  This is me every minute of every day and several hours into each night too as I toss and turn and struggle to switch it all off so I can sleep.  The moment I wake it all starts again.  This is the stuff that fills my mind 24/7 and all of the locations, the conversations and the people are as real to me as anyone I may physically meet.  Being completely alone both physically and emotionally too, allows me to indulge in this fantasy reality to a high degree and I’ve been doing it for so long that I doubt I could stop for long and I couldn’t imagine being able to survive without it.

It’s the easiest thing in the world for me to just write this stuff down.  I’m so tapped in to my creative flow that I can just sit down and switch it on and let the words come tumbling out.  I see it all happening as I write it.  I actually live it as I write it and I feel all of the emotions each time I re read it.  All I have to do is sit down, switch on and step out of the way.  My higher self does the rest, my creativity, my muse, call it what you want.  I always say that I don’t actually write my books; my characters write them and I just take dictation.

Last night I was bored so I sat down and opened a blank word document and then opened my mind.  An hour later I had a full plot synopsis for brand new epic space adventure novel.  No pain, no tears, no agonies of writers block (what the fuck is that anyway?) and no prob laymo.

So in answer to my friend who wanted to know where I get my ideas from.  The answer is, from me.