Monday, June 06, 2011

Finding Your Inspiration – Read a Book…Any Book!

I didn’t decide to write fiction one day, right out of the blue. I fell in love with reading first. As with almost any creative profession, I was a fan before I became an aspiring player.

As a child, no one taught me to read. I learned to read by being read to and recognizing words, and later letters, on my own. I was fortunate. My parents read all of the time and they read to me as well, so my love affair began very young.

How do books inspire me?

Well, as I discussed before, they can lead you down a particular path that wasn’t where you expected to go. Sometimes, they leave you wanting more (or just something different). It took me some time to realize that I could right that “something more”. In this, I don’t mean writing the next sequel to Gone with the Wind, but a new and original story that goes in the direction you wanted the book you just read to go.

Maybe you wanted the saucy heroine in the book you just read to end up with the rogue rather than the gentleman. So why not create your own romance novel with that ending? The heroine might be rebellious rather than pert and the hero might be a highwayman rather than a pirate, but you take my point.

A good book can be a jumping off point for your own writing. Go on, take the plunge.

A book might not need you to “improve” on it. It might be a wholly satisfying read in every way. So why not try to write your own satisfying read? You might want to emulate (but NOT copy) the writer’s style, use of language, or imagery. You might not want to do any of that. You might just want to evoke the same satisfaction in your own work as you just experience. Whatever the motivation, a good book will stimulate you, even by just showing you how it can be done and what it looks like when it’s done right.

So, what about bad books? What about those books that you want to hurl across the room in a fit of disgust? How do you possibly find inspiration from those books?

Like my tip about good books, a bad book can provide a starting point for your own inspiration – in this case, to write the book how you think it should have been written.

Maybe the book you read dealt with a terminally ill family member who just couldn’t inspire sympathy, even though you know the writer wanted the character to do just that. Why don’t you write about a heroine whose parent went through a noble struggle with illness and who finally succumbed with dignity? The experience may have forever touched the heroine yet also lead to her insecurity about losing a loved one.

Sometimes, a piece misses the mark so widely that you just ache to correct it. Don’t rewrite the piece yourself (or else you might be facing a plagiarism allegation) but use the story to inspire your own work.

Good or bad, reading leads to writing. It’s a natural progression.

Photo courtesy of Felixco, Inc. at

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