Forsgren: Always be on the lookout for writing inspiration
As many writers know, sometimes the hardest part of the job is coming up with an idea that you like. This is why it is really important to always keep an open eye and an open mind, because sometimes inspiration can arise in the most unexpected places.
One of the places that I have found very fruitful to get ideas is chatting with friends. For example, it was when I got home late at night after a long day of hunting for “Star Wars” collectibles that I created two of my favorite characters, Joe and Earl. Designed as hip-hop fans spitting profanity, I turned them into metalheads, because I know very little about hip hop and love metal music.
Joe and Earl served as the basis for a comic book story I wrote. It ended up being illustrated by a friend of mine, so I have a comic book I wrote on the same shelf that has all of my Marvel and DC graphic novels in it.
I also have an idea for a feature film script starring Joe and Earl. It would be the closest thing to a zombie story I would ever write. Whether or not that comes to fruition, Joe and Earl are two of my own creations that have been a lot of fun story building. And they also gave me a lot of entertainment.
Another place where I got a lot of story ideas is my dreams. I have some pretty crazy dreams and have drawn a lot of story ideas from things I see in my sleep. My second novel began based on a dream I had where I was a guy planning a funeral for dead celebrity pets. From there, I built a story about a guy taking a road trip with an alien. It was kind of like my version of “ET”
In the dream I was at work and God ripped off the roof and started throwing flaming guitars at me.
Another dream that led to a piece of history came to me when I was working at Deseret Industries a few years ago. In the dream I was at work and God ripped off the roof and started throwing flaming guitars at me. I ended up transcribing this dream into an entire chapter of the last novel I wrote. Dreams are so good for finding ideas to write about, if you can remember them.
One last place I want to bring up is other people’s work. I had a writing teacher who told us aspiring writers to “remember where you see something you like so you can go back and rip it off later.” I have made a lot of “borrowing” from my fellow writers, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I mean, I really can’t believe Suzanne Collins never read “Battle Royale” before writing “The Hunger Games”. And one of my all-time favorite novels, “Ready Player One,” is essentially a huge pastiche of references to the author’s favorite movies, music, TV shows, and video games.
I shot scenes from “Star Wars”, “Fight Club” and “Blade Runner” and created my own versions. I borrowed dialogue pieces from movies and TV shows that I love and used them to give personality to my own characters. Heck, one of my favorite things I ever wrote was my mutated take on the shopping mall chase scene from “The Blues Brothers”. The only drawback to draw from this source: the lack of originality. And the possibility of litigation if you get lazy and plagiarize.
A wiser person than I once said: “Ideas are rare and good ideas are even rarer. Finding an idea that you want to spend enough time on can take a long time. But if you keep an open mind (and eyes and ears), you’re much more likely to come up with an idea that sparks your imagination. And once you have that spark, the sky is the limit!