Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Deluge of Inspiriation & The Danger of Details

What sparks my creativity? From where do my ideas come? Do I research my concepts or just the details?

Questions, questions.
~drums fingers with glee~

Story concepts come to me often. Very, very often. More often than dog hair appears in my coffee.  They really like to come in groups, great whooping distractions during the writing of another story. I've no shortage of BIG ideas.  From whence do they come? Uh. Hmm. Bwwwwwains. Nummy bwwwains. Whatever the scientific or mystical source, I'm just grateful they keep coming.  Usually the concept slaps me with a vivid scene. A moment in the grander story. It's akin to a 30 second video clip. If I'm lucky, it might make it to a full  five minutes of quality daydreaming time. I then wrap a plot, characters, and settings around it. Sometimes, it's not the scene but the protagonist who will come to me. She'll rap on my forehead. Arch an expectant brow. Every detail of her is clear to me. Every scar, every thread, every stain, every strand of hair...even how she smells (which ain't always a pleasant aroma, I assure you). 

The details of the story, however, require effort...and research.

Like most authors, I can get easily lost in research. Use the right resources and the research is more than enlightening; it's fun and hella distracting. Therein lies the danger of research. The hours, days, and months lost in the weeds of research when all we needed was one pine tree. Sure verifying credible sources is a good idea, but that too can send one on the wrong trail. Try to resist. I use a three-source rule if I need accurate data. I stop verifying after I find three (preferably diverse) places with the same info. And I don't limit my searches to The Wiki no matter how convenient it is.  I've a story about stone movers. I had to research assorted types of rocks (a geologist I am not). Jewelers' sale pages and FAQs turned out to be the most helpful. Web searches are great for that sort of thing.

All hail the Google-Fu. 

However, if I need to "feel" an environment, then I read, I watch TV, view paintings & sculptures, listen to music...there's no limit to the sources I'll use. I drench myself in a specifically crafted environment. Example: I've a WiP in which a third of the story takes place on galleons and in shipyards. There's a whole lotta jargon and physical detail that I had to research before I applied the filter of what I used versus what I just needed to know for framing references. There are countless shows, films, books, librettos, etc., on the topic. My favorite go-to for writing those scenes was my father's fifty year old album (yes, vinyl plate) of sea chanties. It continues to be well loved. I continue to need a bar of Ivory Soap for singing along.  ~ehem~

Ideas for stories aren't hard to come by, thankfully. However, the danger of the details isn't in the sources, but in the time-suck.

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