Inspiration…Where does it come From?

Published January 19, 2016 by Lorraine Nelson - Author

The single most often asked question of me as an author is, “Where do you get your inspiration?” I usually just give a flippant, “Anywhere and everywhere. Life. Look around you.” But in all honesty, the first book I wrote for adults, Love on the Rocks, came about while I was doing typing tests to get the flexibility back in my hand after my thumb had been amputated. The Hopewell Rocks tourist attraction is only about a half hour drive from where I live and I’d been there many times over the years. I’d never heard of a romance being located there – and believe me, I’ve read plenty.

Love on the Rocks_hiresI ran across a typing test involving beaches and I immediately thought of The Rocks at Hopewell Cape. As I painstakingly retyped the copy with a sore hand, an idea sprang to mind and I quickly shifted gears. I can do this. I can write a novel about The Rocks. Seven weeks later, my thumb still wasn’t co-operating fully, but I had finished and edited a 63,000 word novel.

Boy, was I impressed! Up until that point, I had written poetry, short stories, and books for children, but never had I taken on a project of such magnitude. As my mom would say, “I was feeling my oats that day.” 🙂

Everybody that read that book encouraged me to submit it. So I did, and suffered through rejection after rejection. I kept reading posts about how a writer learns something new with every book they write. So, I set my ‘baby’ aside and started on another. Surely, I had another story in me.

Daydreams & Night Scenes was the next novel I wrote and, although it has not yet been published, it’s on my to-do-list for editing and publishing.

A few years ago, I studied and registered to be a foster parent. I got thinking of that one day. Quite often, foster homes are situated next to more affluent homes, as mine was, although I had a ranch style bungalow that I loved. What if a poor foster child fell in love with the neighborhood rich boy? But he never noticed her, until…they attended a business conference at a swanky hotel years later.

Yep, that was the start of my idea for the new novel. By then I’d learned about GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict) and did up a GMC sheet for my story. For me, but maybe not for all authors, a GMC Sheet includes:

Setting: Jot down the location and anything else that puts a firm picture in mind. City? Country? Ranch? Farm?

Heroine: Who is she? What does she work at? What does she drive? Where is she from? What does she look like? What is her goal? Her motivation? What conflict will arise that might keep her from getting it? Does she have any flaws? How does she need to grow or what does she need to overcome in order to reach her goal?

Hero: Same as for heroine. We need our readers to love the main characters, so give it your best shot.

Plot: What makes your story unique? Develop the plot here.

Sub-plot(s): If any, list them.

Black Moment: That point of no return when the main character(s) think all is lost.

Resolution: How will you fix it? What is going to tie it all together and give them their happy-ever-after?

Tag line or Log Line: (for marketing purposes.) Have you thought of one?

Writing is a lot of work and has a continual learning curve. It’s research, writing, more research, more writing, and when the story is finished and you think you’re done, then comes the editing. And the submissions. And the rejections. Make sure you have broad shoulders if this is the career path you’ve chosen. Remember, you can’t please everybody.

Happy Writing!

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15 comments on “Inspiration…Where does it come From?

  • I love reading about the story behind a story. It’s fascinating to me, regardless of the author. And, I had to read that twice…you had your thumb amputated?! Oh, man! You’re a trooper, especially since you’ve produced so much content! Amazing.

    Great read!

    • Thanks, Dale. I had an infection that ate the bone from the inside out. It swelled, it hurt, but Dr didn’t know what was wrong. Then one day I pulled a hangnail from this already painful thumb and a sliver of bone came out. Next stop outpatient emergency where I saw a plastic surgeon. That was on a Monday and she operated on Thursday. I suffered from July until almost the end of October. Fun, fun. But it’s all good. Gave me the down time to start writing again. 🙂

  • I can’t imagine being able to concentrate enough to write anything while in pain. Your story itself is inspirational, plus you offer sound advice for existing and would-be authors to keep their careers on track. Great post!

  • Like Dale, I love knowing the story behind the story … even more so when it’s the backstory of one of my all-time favorite authors. It’s even more inspirational to learn how when our life path takes us on one of our rockiest patches that we can climb to the top of those rocks and see our best view ever. Both your books and you, Lorraine, bring great joy to this universe–thank you so very much! To be able to receive advice from someone you can trust is outstanding for anyone wanting to grow as a writer or grow as a person, because, although the black moments can hurt so much at the time, it’s easier to write a book about black moments and joyous resolutions if we too have known and grown from such moments–easier to understand another person’s rocky moments with compassion, too. Whenever you have time, another post with backstory details or inspirational advice–or both!–would be “sweet as honey in the comb,” as the saying goes. 🙂

    • Thank you, Michelle. It’s nice to know that my words reach people. I don’t claim to know everything, no one does, but what I can do is share my journey a book or two at a time and allow readers to get to know me and for writers to learn from my mistakes. Next up, the inspiration for Zakia and the Cowboy and the making of a series. 🙂

  • What a great story behind the story. I really enjoyed reading this and it hits home. I started writing books in November by telling my own story as I have struggled with my weight my entire life. Once I published my book, I thought that would be it, but alas, no it was not. Soon after I published a cookbook and have just published my 3rd book, a journal. I am not finished yet as I have started on some others! I love writing and my story is not done. I agree with you about helping others through writing. Anyhow, I just wanted to tell you thanks for sharing.

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