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Inspire Your Muse at Family Gatherings

Updated on October 10, 2017

I get so many story ideas from going to family events. Why? Because so much happens from telling old family stories to live drama. Leave it to your family to give you ideas.

Old Stories

It never fails, at least with my families. There is always at least one story told of how Aunt Marge took out a robber or Grandma tried to drive a stick shift. I love listening to them. They could be touching, funny, or sad. But….There are stories there. I have written so many short stories from these family stories that they have filled several anthologies. I take the basis of the story and change it a bit. Sometimes I add new characters especially if parts of the story is uncertain. Let your imagination rule!

Bring out old photos and get people talking. You’ll be surprised how pictures can spark the stories. I have always enjoyed asking family who people are in pictures or why they were at a certain location. Sometimes they remember things they forgot at other times. They'll tell you funny stories and even reveal a few tidbits you never knew about your family.

Note: Always carry a small notepad or use your cell phone to jot down the jist of the story so you don’t forget it when you sit down to write.

Current Events/Drama

We can’t forget the events unfolding right before us. Seriously! Every family has current drama or special events going on. They have people who are passionate about different topics.

Right now we have a baby coming into our family, the first in eleven years. Everyone is going crazy. A few funny and heart touching stories can be found. A death in the family can give you dramatic stories, funny stories, and even sad ones. What about the young unmarried girl having a baby and won’t tell who the father is? A story is there. Someone changing jobs can be inspiration. Have fun and use creative license with what you see and hear about.

If it is around election time, you can see some big drama. Watch how people react to certain statements. You can gain a lot of material from such events. It is really good to find inspiration for just characters. We have one relative that takes every little thing the political candidate on the opposing side does and literally makes it a life a death situation. I wish I could say I was exaggerating, but she really thinks that the president will molest her and her daughter personally. If I needed an over-dramatic character, I have the perfect role-model.

Also note how people avoid drama. When tense topics come up, watch how people react. Note that as you might have need for that action in a scene. Inspiration doesn't have to be about an entire story. It can inspire a new character or a way to liven up a scene.

Ancestry Information

This might not be the first place you think of to find inspiration, but it might be the one that is never exhausted. I have done extensive research on my family as well as my husband's. There are so many things I have discovered that have been beyond inspiring.

Research brings about questions. Why did they move from one place to another at that time when there was no connection to that location before? Why is there no information on one person or during one time period?

I found a Revolutionary spy in my ancestry tree. I have copies of the actual military records of his actions which detail many battles he was involved in or assisted. That is very inspiring to me.

The new DNA research into our past is also a great way to find inspiration. I have blood that I never dreamed of and wonder where it came into play. As that time period would have looked down on that mix of blood, I will never find concrete evidence in written form. My writer's mind is going nuts coming up with possibilities.

No Limits

Let anything inspire you when you get with your family. Get ideas for new stories, new characters, new scenes. Keep notes and pay attention to body language, tone of voice, mannerisms, sayings, and information. You never know what you will learn and what will help make your stories amazing.

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