About Writers, inspiration, Uncategorized

Behind the Story

Authors are creative people. Give us an interesting idea or a memorable experience, and we’ll create a world, populate it with believable characters, and tell their stories. Not that you have to wait for the gift. Jack London famously said, “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”

A WWII a bombardier dealt with the horrors of war in his memories for years before a line suddenly popped into his head: “It was love at first sight. The first time he saw the chaplain, [the as yet unnamed main character] fell madly in love with him.” Joseph Heller began writing a short story that gripped him for years before it became the novel, Catch-22.

One of many women growing up in the deep south of segregation watched her father defend two black men against a charge of murdering a white businessman. They were hanged. That father and son had no chance in 1919 Alabama. Harper Lee turned her childhood experiences into To Kill A Mockingbird.

Creativity is sometimes reaction. J.D. Salinger wrote The Catcher in the Rye as a personal reaction against war. He had several chapters with him when he landed on D-Day. It can also be misleading. Russian and American novelist Vladimir Nabokov read German and lived 15 years in Berlin, beginning in 1922. He could have read the short story, “Lolita,” written by prominent Berlin author Heinz von Lichberg in 1919. The similarities with Nabokov’s Lolita are numerous.

What about you? What lies behind your stories?


13 thoughts on “Behind the Story

  1. mimispeike says:

    I’ve talked about how I began Sly. I had done a drawing of a cat playing a fiddle for an illustration class and I thought–I need to write a story to go with it.

    How did I come up with my silent-movie-star mouse? I read an interview of Gloria Swanson, reprinted in one of my many books on movies, in which she said “They say you can’t be glamorous if you’re only five feet tall. I believe I’ve proved them wrong.”

    A thought popped into my head: They say you can’t be glamorous if you’re only five inches tall. I believe I’ve proved them wrong. Marcelline Mulot was born at that very instant.

    My intro to Maisie in Hollywood was just published in The Haven on Medium. Read it at: https://medium.com/the-haven/maisie-in-hollywood-fb46edded5b9

    It’s the start of, yes, another series. And, yes, there will be a paper doll to go with it.

    Her name was originally Marie LaMouse. I changed it to Marcelline Mulot. Mulot means ‘field mouse’ in French.

    Curtis, I hope that’s right. That’s what googling tells me.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. A brain glitch caused “crappy apartment” to come out as “crapartment”, and I wondered who would say that. Turned out it was Romero Russo’s description of his home in “Sarcasm Font”.

    A text message sent at 6:35am was received at 6:34am and led to “The App”.

    Every story about humanity’s creation is primarily speculation. What if our “Beginnings” were the trashed result of a failed celestial corporate R&D experiment?

    Sometimes a character has a story to tell. Sometimes one of the Universe’s oddities begs for an explanation. And always there is the question, “What if?”

    Liked by 6 people

  3. “What if” is my favorite. It’s the essential sci-fi interface between reality and fiction. What if aliens routinely shanghaied lesser beings to work aboard their ships? What if covid-19 is pre-apocalyptic? What if summer never ended? What if (pick one) religion is true and we have to war against their god(s)? What if Herbert Hoover really did have bladders on his feet? The mind boggles 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    • My latest “what-if” story was inspired by a blog post about the time Bonnie and Clyde hid out at a camp ground in Dexter, Iowa. That sent me to YouTube to watch every video about them I could find. The end result was “The Day Bonnie and Clyde Robbed the Enosburg Falls National Bank.” They didn’t, really; the story was imagined by the Town Constable as he made his appointed rounds sitting on a park bench on Main Street. The Town Constable was based on the Town Constable in Enosburg when I was in high school. His claim to fame was watching the getaway car tear up Main Street after a bank robbery and remarking, “Them boys are goin’ mighty fast.” He hailed from a little blip on the map called Pumpkinville. For real.

      Liked by 6 people

    • victoracquista says:

      That “what if” question led to my sci fi novel “Sentient”. What if humanity was telepathically connected in shared consciousness? What if auditory hallucinations were some sort of partially blocked or incomplete telepathy? An entire novel was birthed from those two questions.

      What if humanity could readily distinguish truth from falsehood–how would that change the world? That’s an essential question underlying my new novel.

      I find the “what if” approach to be a path to creativity in coming up with plot, story, and characters. The other major stimulus for me that provokes my creativity is to have some social issue that I am motivated to write about. How can you get that message out through plot and characters without getting on a soapbox? How do you tell that story in a compelling way that engages readers and gets them thinking about that issue? It challenges my own personal creativity when I’m writing with that particular drive and motivation. I enjoy reading the work of others when I see this done well.

      Social and cultural realities are part of the human condition. In the end, isn’t that what we all write about either to explore or to escape those realities?

      Liked by 6 people

  4. mimispeike says:

    I have just submitted ‘Celestine and Her Sisters’ to a poetry publication on Medium, the only one I see that is at all compatible with my style. If it will go there, who knows?

    What got me onto this project, I can’t absolutely say, it was so long ago. This is another of my forty-year efforts. I think it had something to do with wanting to humanize the characters. Cinderella and her stepsisters are commonly black-and-white portrayals. I’ve introduced many variations of gray. And, my inevitable approach, a good deal of sly humor.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Peter Thomson says:

    My stories started with ‘wait! Magic is real?” and then went well, what would people do with it? Wash the clothes and cook the food, obviously…

    Also, there has been a great crime. What happens to the bystanders? What ripples does it leave? Two servants get sentenced for not preventing it (because somebody has to be guilty, right?) Where do their lives go? In another place some newbies get a chance.

    And not to forget, “You’re a robber baron, Fine. Where do your meals and beds and so on come from?” Not many people hauling tubs of butter through the wastes. Next thing it’s tax evasion and kidnapping lawyers….

    Liked by 3 people

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