Wordsmith Wednesday


As writers, we pull inspiration from may places. Personally my inspiration comes from comics, some video games, mythology and even other authors. Something I have learned over time is to open myself up to inspiration from any source. Sometimes, this surprises me. Inspiration will come from the most unexpected places; nature, smells and other sensory input, my dad working in his cabinet shop or on a car, my mom playing with her granddaughter, and countless other examples.

Sometimes, however, inspiration may seem sparse and we can’t seem to pull ideas from anywhere. This can be frustrating and even more, heartbreaking. When a writer can’t find inspiration to write, sometimes we fall into the trap of writer’s block

Well, I am here to offer some tips to steer clear of that. In fact, these tips come from using and twisting old stories that you might have heart before but, sometimes in doing this it will create a spark. So here we go:

Switch Story Elements: Recently there was an animated Batman movie that took place in Feudal Japan. Batman and the Joker became samurai. Taking a tale you already know and mixing up elements in the story might help get something new going in your own mind.

Change a point of view: Sometimes I wonder how Doc, or any other dwarf, might retell the story of Snow White while drinking in a bar. Take a side character from a work and tell a story from their perspective.

Modernize themes: Have you ever thought about taking an old story like Pinocchio and wondered what it would look like if played out today? Make something up-to-date or even later in the future.

Make it your own: In the movie Finding Forrester part of the story revolves around Jamal having taken a story from author William Forrester and using only the first line or so and then using it to make his own tale. Many other creators in the past have taken much more than just the first line. But, we as writers, take from everyone we read. So, take something and make it yours.

I hope these ideas help create some inspiration for you.

To take this a step further, I have started a story that has been floating in my head recently and I invite anyone reading this to do the same and even share it. Here is the premise:

Choose a folk tale or fairy tale that you know well. Select one of the characters from the story for the following exercise and write a few pages about them, using one of the following prompts:

  • Pretend you and the character have not only switched bodies but times as well (they are in your body here and now and you are in theirs, then). How does this pan out?
  • Years after the fact (of whatever story or tale this is from) your character has gone senile and tries relating this story to a group of young people. What pieces are changed? Make it interesting!

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