Hello family, friends, and fans!
Inspiration can be a tricky thing. It is, in my experience, rarely a complete sentence or complete thought. It is parts, fragments, and building blocks of something larger that require time and effort to piece it together. Inspiration is not a blanket gifted on a cold night; it is a thousand strings you must weave into something of substance. That’s why the work is so important. That said… how do you recognize inspiration, or better yet, what do you do with it once you have it?
I make a scene independent of time or place in the story. That becomes the kitchen, so to speak, to try out several recipes to utilize this spark of inspiration. In the kitchen, you need to know who you are cooking for. Is this inspiration a phrase, a feeling, a device? Is there an emotion tied to it? Is there something larger that connects it?
There was a phrase that followed me when writing the first draft, a phrase never said by a character in A Promise of Iron.
“Burn. Burn. Burn.”
These words are simple and uninspired to the unfamiliar eye. To me, and my character, they are broad in implications. These words are cold, detached, inhuman. They also evoke pain and more than a little psychosis. When it became clear to me who this phrase belonged to, it helped to shape the motivations and narrative of that character. I found purpose behind actions, behind words. I found truths and realism in behavior. I found background and context to justify those actions. Inspiration did not come fully formed, but it was a spark that led to a flame that led to a fire.
I tried to find a place for those words, some scene that could support them and pay homage to the gods of inspiration. But I couldn’t; it just never worked; the implications were always far more important than the words.
Inspiration can be three words, or one word said three times. Inspiration can be the words or the hidden depth behind those words. It can be the feeling or the motivations that lead to a feeling. It can be a war, a sword, a spell, or the thousands of layers of mythology and worldbuilding that you build like a shrine to display them. Inspiration takes on many forms, especially when it inspires you to work at that problem. Go into the kitchen. Bang some pots and pans around. Sometimes what you cook tastes terrible, but sometimes you come up with something exceptional. Bad ideas aren’t bad if they lead to good ideas.
Thanks for reading.
Salt and Ruin,