Friday, October 22, 2010

Inspiration - Building a Novel

Yesterday (it's still 11:59 pm as I start this, so it is still yesterday!) I talked about where or how I found my initial ideas for novels - about that first spark of inspiration that grips you and refuses to let go.

Unfortunately, that spark is not enough to get a novel. You have to develop the idea into a complex plot with three-dimensional characters in a believable setting. And that takes a lot of ideas, and a lot of thinking.

So where do you get those ideas?

It's a bit different now that I have something to work from. I described my plotting process in more details early on, in a post I called Unraveling the Plot. Basically, I keep asking questions (mostly why), answering them, and then asking questions about the answers I just gave.

Sometimes, though, the answers won't come easily. What do I do then? How do I get out of this inspiration block? In a way, I guess I just let it rest in the back of my mind until something comes up. With time I noticed there were moments where inspiration came more easily, though. Here's a list!

1. Chores. Whether I'm doing the dishes, cleaning up my bedroom or gathering all the leaves in my backyard (there's a lot of them), when I'm working a mindless task, novel ideas seem to assault me. This is good, because otherwise I'd never clean my room!

2. Walking. I have to walk 20 minutes every morning to get to the University, and 20 minutes back. Trust me, this is by far the most idea-inducing period of my days. When I'm stuck in corner, whether while plotting or writing, I often go out to take a walk. It's just a shame the weather won't allow it year-long.

3. Classes. Hum... yeah. I won't say more about that one. Just that sometimes, I am writing things down during classes, and they are not biochemistry notes.

4. Waking up. I'm a snooze person. I set my alarm an hour earlier than I need to, and snooze it every 10-20 minutes. This gets me in a semi-sleeping stage that does wonder for my novels. I think only walking works better than this!

So these are my little daily times where I get ideas and develop my plot. This is when I do my thinking. What about you guys? Any times of the day you seem more inclined to think about your novel?


  1. For me, it happens just about everywhere (my brain never really stops). I would say that when I am at work is a big one (I can think idly about it, or speculatively, and that helps), and also while I am asleep. Half of my story comes from dreams anyhow, and I will wake up with ideas I definitely didn't have when I went to sleep.

  2. The only dream story I had was my first NaNo, and the influence from what I'd been reading and playing (as a video games) were rather obvious through it. It's my first novel, though, so I still love it.

    Do you note down your ideas as soon as you wake? I always end up forgetting my dreams.

  3. Sadly, I do not. I have probably had lots of good ideas forgotten to time. That's kind of the way I work; I have more random creativity than I do follow-through. I don't know if they would turn out well, but they will stories I will never write.

    But after my first 50k words this year, I will give myself liberty to switch to a Fiction/light SciFi/light Fantasy story that I will explain over AIM/in chat.