Sunday, 27 October 2013


Inspiration is not something you can force, though it is a necessary component of the creative process. Knowing what inspires you and exposing yourself to it, can help to get inspiration flowing.

I do not actively look for inspiration but I expose myself quite often to things that I know that can inspire me. Inspiration does not come out of thin air for me. Most of the times when I get an idea, I am deep in thought and creating stories in my mind. Talking with other people about things, they can be very random and have not to be related to any kind of creativity, I get inspired as well.
High on my list of things that inspire me is music. Especially music with sad lyrics. I automatically start building a story around the lyrics or I try to relate to them. Sometimes I marvel at how certain emotions are described. More than once music has helped me to convert a certain emotion more clearly to ink and paper. Sometimes I come across a song that fits extremely well for a certain story/scene/character and I can listen to it over and over again without getting tired of it. But not all music inspired me. I have to like it. I am able to get most inspiration from band I really love.

The beautiful, magical northern lights serve as a great inspiration for me. One day, I hope to see them myself.
source: Google images

Nature is also a great source for ideas. Reading, especially poetry, and writing has taught me to stop rushing and enjoy the simple beauty around me. It does not have to be an incredible landscape from a faraway place. A seemingly dull tree or a bird that you see everywhere can be enough to trigger a flood of inspiration. Especially autumn is a great season for ideas for me. All the colours and the world slowly preparing for the cold and dark winter are very inspirational. The world is changing right before my eyes. It is truly incredible.

Another important thing that inspires me, are my literature classes and reading. While they do not always give me content ideas, they do, however, want me to experiment with language. Writing is not only about telling the story and how you tell it, but also about using language. Sometimes the language part is very difficult for me because I do not write in my first language. I deem myself to be a decent user of English, I know that my vocabulary is sometimes very limited. Luckily there are always dictionaries and the thesaurus to help me resolve that problem.

There are far more things that inspire me, but those mentioned above are the most important ones I can almost always fall back on. To make them work I have to more or less relaxed. They are, lucky for me, also great ways to become relaxed. But sometimes when I am stressed or very worried, it is almost impossible to relax and inspiration stays away. These states of mind do not last long and I do not allow them to meddle with my writing. There is always something to write about, even though it is about grocery shopping or walking to work. Even such simple things can make a great story if told and written well! Who knows where they might lead.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Write Because a Story Bruns Within You

“Write because a story burns within you, and you find yourself thinking and dreaming of it every free moment.” Christoper Paolini (The Inheritance cycle) tweeted this some time ago. I can very much relate to this quote. While I have written (or better said started) several stories before, nothing burned so within me as the current one does. Wanderers’ Tale saga (this is the working title of the series) that I write with a co-writer, is always on my mind every free moment. Unfortunately it tends to slip to the front of my mind when I shouldn’t be thinking about it as well.

For those who do not know, I am co-writing a story that started out as a fan fiction (we used our idols as the main characters) but we decided that the plot was interesting enough to turn into an original story. Now we are finishing off the fan fiction version and will use that as a rough outline for the original story.  We are writing this round-robin: we each take turns writing short pieces, continuing on what the other has previously written. This is a very fun way to write and explore possibilities but it also creates inconsistencies and is very very slow.

I do love this story a lot, especially the characters, but it is starting to become tedious. It has been dragging on for about 10 months now and we had to postpone the deadline a couple of times because we could not reach it. The latest deadline we agreed on is the end of October. While the story is coming to a close, we are not going to be able to finish it in time unless we rush. Thus we agreed to abandon the deadline and just try to get it finished as soon as possible. It is not an ideal solution, but there is not any better. This weekend I actually realised how tired I am of this method of writing. It was the first time I had not really thought about the story for more than a day. The last 9 months the story and the characters have been on my mind daily. I love plotting and creating scenes while I try to sleep, it relaxes me and helps me fall asleep. It became a habit that I finally broke this weekend. It felt good!

The most annoying thing of it all is that I have quite some free time and thus writing time this term, but there just is not much I can do! I could prepare some world building for the rewrite of the story though as long as my co-writer and I do not have a contract about the book(s), I am not very keen to start on it. My co-writer is very busy until the end of the year and then, when I will have a busy term, she will have more free time.

Waiting to be able to write something can be frustrating. I tried to start on another story, but I discovered that I could not really get into as long as Wanderers’ Tale is stuck in my head.  I suppose the only thing I can do is have patience. I am, however, not a very patient person. What makes up for that is that I do not complain easily and thus when I am frustrated, I do not show that quickly.

In the future I am going to try to post at least one blog a week in the weekend and write more about my personal writing and share my struggles and victories!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Let Your Characters Make Their Own Decisions

Characters are the soul of the story. They are born out your imagination and ought to grow beyond it. Let them become more than ink and paper. Let them come to life! Unless you have Frankenstein like ambitions, they will never be made out of flesh and blood. But as a writer, you have the prefect excuse to have imaginary friends. It would be a shame not to use it!

Get to know your characters well. Go to a bar with them, take them with you on a walk through the woods or play truth or dare with them. It does not matter how you get the know them, but it is important that you do. Your whole story will be spun around them. The characters that stay with us long after we finished a book. 

When you know your characters, you will know what drives them and what choices they will make. This is very important if you start building your plot. You cannot force your character to take a certain decision that will be more favourable for the plot. They have a mind of their own and they are driven by their own motivations. That is why it is important to create the plot around the characters and let them influence the plot by their choices. Do not bend the characters in such a way that they fit into the plot, but bend the plot. 

source: Google Images
That is why I barely plan the plot ahead. I know what the main conflict in the story will be and I have an idea of how it is going to end, but what happens on the journey is something I have yet to discover. While writing I come up with events that can happen during the stories and while I am looking forward to write them, they might not end up in the story because of a certain decision a character makes. 
I spend a lot of time writing a certain scene that was  supposed to be pivotal in the healing process of one of my characters. The scene would give him insight of what had happened to him and how he could continue on living his life. I knew exactly how the scene was going to be. I pictured every detail in my head. Unfortunately the scene did not fit the character. It would have this enlightening effect that it was supposed to have. 

When I start writing a story, I know where it will begin and I have an idea about how it will end. Sometimes I have ideas about events that can take place throughout the journey the characters make. When I write I get into the head of my characters. I discover most of the story while I travel with them through it. This makes it very easy for me to respect my characters and accept the choices they made; even when that means that very cool event I was dying to write will not happen. On the contrary, it would damage the character even more unless I would force him to think a certain way and perceive certain things in a different way. It would be very out-of-character for him. It was a tough decision the scrap the scene because I already put quite some effort and time in it. It was for the greater good. 

Getting to know your characters well will take a while. You will never know them as well as you think you do and that is great. Nothing is as thrilling as discovering something surprising about your characters. Let them be born out of your imagination, let them grow beyond the page and give them their own voice, thoughts and emotions. Respect them and never force them to do things they would not do. If you want your character to do something uncharacteristic, make sure you have a good reason for it. Maybe another character forces him/her to do it or perhaps he/she will lose something/someone very dear to them if they do not do it.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013


As  a writer and a bookworm, it seems only natural that I am fascinated by stories. We hear stories daily: someone telling us about their day or even their holiday or perhaps recounting something they have seen on their way to the grocery store. Stories have been told in one way or another since the prehistoric times. Just look at the painting made in caves. Telling stories is, just like dreaming, a way to process experiences.  

My fascination for stories goes beyond the written word, though I have to admit that books are my favourite medium for stories. It is for me the easiest way to get completely immersed in the story. Because there are rarely images in novels, I am encouraged use my imagination while reading. This way I can add a lot of elements created by me to the story. Often I imagine characters to look very different from the description. For some reason I just cannot seem to remember more than basic body shape, hair colour, eye colour and a distinctive feature like a scar or tattoo. Exactly how a character looks rarely matter in a story anyway.

Writing makes me imagine things even more clearly than reading. It is my world filled with my places and my characters. Scenes play in my mind as a film. I can see them more clearly when I close my eyes and nothing disturbs me. Thus at night, right before I fall asleep, my story because very vivid. I love these moments and treasure them.

Another way of storytelling I really enjoy are games. While games created the visual and don’t leave a lot up to the gamer’s imagination, you still have to think about what you do. Especially RPGs (Roleplaying games) ought to have a great story where you get into the skin of a character and explore the world and save it from evil. Games with great stories enable me to dig deep into my characters being and see the world through their eyes. I love games like Dragon Age and The Elderscrolls series were in your decisions have an impact on the game world and the further outcome of the story. Games can enable you to live the story on  a very interactive level.

A lot of people like films and television series as a way to tell and listen to stories. While I can enjoy a good film or series, I often have trouble staying focused. Even good films and series tend to bore me. The reason for this is that it is a very passive experience. I do not have the imagine how everything looks, nor do I have to control a character and make decisions. The only moment I can get really into a film is in the cinema when everything is dark and there are no other distractions around but the film. Even while watching great films at home I can get bored. I just hate doing nothing but staring at a screen. Watching a film goes often hand in hand with snacking or painting my nails or something.  

While there are many more ways to experience stories these are for me the main means. I would love to know what your favourite way is to experience stories, so feel free to leave them in the comment section below!