Inspiration and Story Origin

Every story is, at its core, a single thought or image. Often, this thought or image is the original inspiration of the story.

As I wade through the wisdom within Stephen King’s On Writing, I have resonated with certain ideas he puts forth. One of these, as previously states, that a story is born from a single precious piece. This piece might be an image, a thought (commonly called a “what if”), or a dream. The common factor within these, which is the spark of the story, is the wondrous excitement it causes you, the writer. The kindling which you can’t help but light.

In this sense, I suppose writers are similar to pyromaniacs. Ehehe.

I have also come to the conclusion that a story burns out when the writer loses sight of the origin which made them want to write the story in the first place. I know this is commonly the case with me. I love worldbuilding… but I get so complex that I lose sight of the magical idea I wanted to write about and get lost in the details. Details are poisoned arrows. I am highly susceptible to poison. Therefore, getting lost in the details effectively kills my stories.

In hopes of preventing this from happening, I am making a resolution. Whenever I come up with a new story, I will write down the inspiration and story origin. Whenever I sit down to write the story, I will first review the ISO. If I start to divulge in details which draw me away from the ISO, I will simplify.

What do you do to keep a story from dying? Where do you keep the original wonder?

 

Cheers!

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Kitsune

Kitsune are fox spirits from Asian folklore, particularly Japanese. They aren’t spirits in the same way ghosts are; the term simply defines them as having a dominant supernatural side, rather than a dominant physical side like normal foxes.

A kitsune is said to possess unnatural intelligence, long life, and magical powers. The most common of magical powers attributed to kitsune is shapeshifting. A kitsune can learn to take the form of a human when it reaches a certain age: 50-100 years old. Other powers kitsune may manifest are the ability to generate fire or lighting from their mouths and tails, the ability to purposely appear in another’s dreams, the ability to create complex optical illusions, and invisibility. The most powerful kitsune can drive people mad, bend space and time, and shapeshift into massive objects such as a second moon or a tree that reaches into the celestial sphere. Kitsune are also terrified of dogs…heehee.

Some ways a kitsune is revealed in its human form is a fox-shaped shadow, or a reflection in a mirror–in which it will look like a fox, of course. Kitsune also have star-balls, or fox-fire, that they have to keep with them at all times. This is usually manifested as a glowing, floating ball near their person. Sometimes the fox-fire can be contained in pearls or other gems. The fox keeps part or all of its magic inside the star-ball, and is helpless when separated from it.

The color of a kitsune is important in knowing what sort of kitsune they are. White foxes are, of course, good. Black foxes are also considered good. Gold foxes are the oldest, in possession of all of the nine tails that are so commonly associated with them. They are either incredibly benevolent or decidedly evil and vicious. Red foxes are young foxes, and can be either good or bad. There are also wild foxes, who don’t have a specific set of morals, but they are not associated with a particular color. Kitsune in general tend to be quite ambiguous when it comes to morality. Also, air kitsune are the most ultimate of evil kitsune.

 

A lot of good material there! Of course, my kitsune will be vastly different from the original kitsune outlined here, but still…kitsune are pretty cool! Way cooler than elves, if you ask me. Of course, I have this little button when it comes to elves. If it isn’t Tolkien, it had better not have a tall, beautiful elf. You know?

What is your favorite (not overused) magical creature?

 

Cheers!

The Music of Story

Once I was reading the acknowledgements at the end of a book (yes, I’m one of the weird people who actually read those), and the author had listed some songs and bands she listened to while writing the book. My first impression was, “Hey! I should go listen to those songs!” I didn’t, because back then I did not have my own computer. However, I still remember the honey-gold spread in my chest when I read that list of songs. Music is an important part of my life, and I love it when others appreciate the story and meaning and raw emotional power behind a song, rather than just a melody line. Or a chorus. Or a chord pattern. Or noise.

Years later, I saw a post about music on the Go Teen Writers Facebook Page–which is a closed group, but totally worth getting into–and, being me, I devoured it. My fellow teen writers were linking to songs on YouTube, and saying what they meant to their story. Some songs related to a character, and some to the whole story in general. Other songs just had a feel to them that inspired the author to write.

The next piece in this puzzle is The Adventures of Tintin movie. I went out to see it with some of my friends and my family, and fell in love. I had read several of the comics first, at the suggestion of one of my friends, so I had a little Tintin lore under my belt. I loved the movie. My favorite part was the opening credits.

However, the aspect of the movie I loved best was the soundtrack.

I love soundtracks.

I really love soundtracks.

The reason I love them so much is that they are the Music of Story. A soundtrack is not just a progression of different melody lines with different moods woven together at some artists whim. It is a musical accompaniment to a previously conceived, filmed, and edited story. A movie composer watches shots over and over again, writing his music to match perfectly with the story, and add richness and depth to the audience’s experience.

People have different ideas of what they like in a soundtrack, and what inspires them. Some of my favorite soundtracks are The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn, How To Train Your Dragon, Speed Racer, Inception, Titan A.E., Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, War Horse, and Hugo. You can listen to all of them on YouTube. But I can give you a headstart. On YouTube.

It can be very difficult to find some soundtracks on YouTube. However, SoundtrackUniverse has a bunch of soundtrack playlists, including most of my personal favorites.

http://www.youtube.com/user/SoundtrackUniverse

I know a lot of people also get inspiration from pop songs, like Taylor Swift. If I want vocals in my music, I usually turn to Broadway. One of my favorite songs to listen to so that I will actually write is This Is The Moment, from Jekyll and Hyde. (Listen to the Australian singer. I think his name is Anthony Warsaw. Or something like that. Amazing!)

However, my favorite show tunes are not from Broadway. I love listening to The Lord of the Rings musical, particularly Flight to the Ford, Wonder, Cat and Moon, and The Road Goes On.

Do you like to listen to music when you write? What sort of music? Is there a song that always gets you in the mood to create? Do you have a story or character that has a theme song? What is your favorite soundtrack?

Transforming Mythos Into Storyworld

Well, you could just steal the whole mythos and not even try to make it your own. Aztec myths in Belle-prose.

Or you could just keep the mythos and create intriguing and original characters to insert in it. Belle-people in Aztec world.

OR

 

Take a piece of myth;

gold-mottled stone,

blocky, geometric,

crafted by other hands

and other minds,

and crush it.

Sweep the dust of myth

into your hands,

and blow it into the sky

with the breath of your inspiration

and the winged soul of your passion,

and transform it into a black veil,

soaked in blood

and screams

and agony,

yet still evanescent enough

for a silken rainbow

to sparkle from behind.

 

Cheers!

 

Inspiration Aztec

Aztecs. Such a fascinating race, although some of their practices were quite…graphic. Which is part of what makes them such excellent material for inspiration. Conflict is at the heart of story, right? And Aztecs…talk about conflict! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s okay. I almost wish I hadn’t picked that particular culture….

But I did. This is where the problems start.

One of the main reasons to draw upon an already existent civilization in fantasy is to have that culture’s mythological base to draw from. The Aztecs mythological base is, of course, rife with gods and goddesses. Bloodthirsty, cruel gods and goddesses. Which, by choosing this nation’s rich mythology to draw from, I am now obliged to turn into heroes.

I’m having a really hard time wrapping my brain around that.

On the other hand, there really is so much fascinating material to draw from! Smoking mirrors that reveal a person’s heart, hummingbirds that carry the souls of the dead, the sanctity of the Cuetlaxochit (better known as the poinsettia), and the different destructions and recreations of the world! I love having so much to choose from! I just feel a little guilty, because I have to wonder…who inspired the stories of these gods and goddesses? Who were they, and why would they inspire such terrible practices? Your guess is probably the same as mine….

Most of our information about the Aztecs is from the Spanish expedition in South America–in the 1500s, wasn’t it? My story is set long before then in the Aztec mythos. Toward the beginning of the fourth age, which comes after the world was destroyed by fire, and is ruled by the water goddes Chalchiuhtlicue. So I have the freedom to base my world on the Aztec culture and mythos, but I don’t have to feel bound by historical detail. Believe me, I tend to get very bound by historical detail.

So, there is my blather on the subject of basing fantasy worlds on existing civilizations…or how I’m trying to do it. 😉

Cheers!

Do you base your worlds on existing cultures? Which cultures do you like to draw from, and why? What are your reservations, and what do you love, about using the cultures you choose?