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Monday, July 2, 2012

Inspiration Comes From Mysterious Places

I think every writer has heard "Where do you get your ideas?" about, oh, a million times. It's a valid question. Sometimes just coming up with something to write about is half the battle. (And then there are all the other fun battles, like actually putting it down on paper, and making sure the idea can last for more than a paragraph, and so on.)

Inspiration for The Edge of the Sphere (coming in August!) came from an interesting place. And by "interesting", I mean "nerdy, incredibly nerdy, oh dear god I can't believe I'm about to blog about this nerdy". So my love for video games has already been pretty well-documented on this blog. I've already discussed how much the book was influenced by some of my favorite games. However, I think "influence" and "inspiration" can be very different things. Let's talk about the latter.

On a fansite for a series I particularly love, there was some ongoing discussion about our favorite characters. Somehow, this led to one of the members writing a series of shorts about us (as in, real people us) going out on dates with said video game characters. (I told you this was going to be embarrassing!) Everyone got about 1000 words about their "date", and then there was a grand finale where we all got together in the same room and some chaos and hilarity ensued. All good, harmless fun, albeit EXTREMELY geektastic.

Then I got nominated to write the sequel. Sure, why not? I dutifully started planning and asked everyone who they wanted to be paired up with this time around - if they wanted the same "dates" or if they wanted to change. One of my friends, who goes by Xander on the sites, tried to duck out of this series and said he didn't want to be included. Hahaha no. Nice try. Due to his insolence, I told him that he no longer got to choose, and I would be picking his date for him.

I settled on an original character he'd created for a role-playing game set in an alternate universe. He'd written a lot about her and created artwork for her (and some of us had already teased him about her being his fake girlfriend, we're so nice), so I figured I'd have a lot to go on. For the sequel, I decided everyone was already in established relationships with their "dates", except Xander started off his chapter single and alone. In about 1000 words, I wrote a story about how he dreamt of a woman, drew pictures of her, and then eventually met her, all while borrowing some ideas and scenes that he'd created when he made the character.

And this is where my trolling backfired - people really liked the story. I got some great feedback on it, and most people thought it was really sweet and imaginative. In other words, I set out to be an asshole poking fun at my friend's then-lack of a social life, and then everyone told me how nice I was. Go figure.

Many months later, something made me think of that story, I don't even remember what. I couldn't get it out of my mind, and the fact that other people enjoyed it certainly helped. Long story short, with permission from Xander, that 1000 word short eventually turned into a 50K-word novel. (Well, only the first 10K words or so are based off that little chapter. Then I took a sharp turn into very different territory.) When I originally wrote the single chapter, I never thought that it would turn into something so much bigger. Now, the book has officially become my favorite thing I've ever written.

Oh, and the nerds and geeks are going to take over the world one day. Mark my words.

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