I choose something that speaks to me or I want to learn more about. For instance I was interested in learning more about the great 1906 earthquake in San Francisco so I set my novel “Love and Yellow Kites” there and I got to indulge in my passion for history while feeding my need to write.
For me, novel inspiration comes from settings/atmospheres I've enjoyed in the past. It doesn't really matter where it comes from, be it another book, a movie or a video game. There is a reason you enjoyed that particular atmosphere and if you find yourself thinking about it a lot, it means it is ripe for planting your own story. And don't worry about being inspired by an existing work, nothing is original, but by the time you're done with it, there is no way it will resemble the source material. Really, the existing atmosphere is just used to get your story off the ground. It helps if you have some pre-made characters off in the side lines, but the core concept is to write about something you like, rather than something you THINK is a good idea.
This is right up there with the classic "Where do you get your ideas?" Best-selling author James Rollins recently confessed in a video blog that he's been making up answers to that question for years, because he didn't want to admit the truth that all professional writers have to own up to:
We have no freakin' clue. Ideas pop into our head with the unpredictable reliability of an 8-year-old ADHD imagination. The more interesting question, which we never get asked, would be "How many twisted, weird, completely mind-mushy ideas come to you that you have to throw out as too freaky for human consumption?"
And the answer to that one is: Way too many.
heck, right now, I can't get the image of robot orangutans defending Mars out of my head - and i don't even write science fiction.
it depends on the day, hour, moment, inspiration.
I would say that the ingredients are simple, 49.9% passion, 18.6% insane creationism, 13% daydreams, 7.5% actual facts, and the rest all fits into place.
Actually, I made all of that up. The novel I am trying to publish now is a mutant idea I got from a dream and have changed a million times. My other novel came from some depressing thoughts. Another was a random idea that I planted and grew into a beautiful flower. I think the topics come with ideas that all writers have deep inside. If someone is looking at a blank canvas is can be intimidating, but if they look at the busy, artistic things going on in their head a novel will quickly emerge.
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