When starting a new novel, I’m always looking for ways to supercharge my muse. Here are a few places I turn to when I’m searching for inspiration for intriguing characters, evocative settings, twisty plot ideas, and those little details that turn a book from a generic muddle into something special.
- Museums and art galleries. I’m a visual person, so I’m revitalized by colors, shapes and textures that take me to places I’ve never been and make me feel things I haven’t felt. I love going to a museum and delving into a great exhibit on another culture or another time. A recent exhibit on Finnish design at San Diego’s Mingei Museum got my head filled with fantastic names, intricate patterns, and brilliant uses for technology.
- Conventions and Writers Conferences. Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, once said that Comic-Con was the inspiration for his show due to the sheer creativity on display. I certainly find conventions to be wildly inspiring. Just being with so many creators and hearing about what they’re doing sparks ideas. I love going to conventions like Comic-Con, RWA National, and San Diego’s local science fiction convention, Condor, where I’ll be a guest speaker this weekend. I get the same charge from our local RWA meeting and the fabulous guest speakers we have every month. I always come away with more than one idea for a story.
- Pinterest. Devoted to pinning images on boards to make collage-like collections, this addictive social media network is a never-ending stream of delicious inspiration. My Pinterest friends post fantastic pictures of faraway places, yummy images of fantastic meals, and gorgeous pics of fascinating people I’d love to use as models for characters. I can assemble any pictures I like onto boards. I love Pinterest so much I have to limit my time using it. If you want to join Pinterest and don’t have a membership yet, put out a request on Twitter or Facebook and someone will most likely send you an invitation.
- A Walk in the Park. I live across from Balboa Park in San Diego, one of the most beautiful nature preserves I know. I go walking there almost every day. Nature never ceases to inspire me — from the crows fighting for scraps picnickers have left, to the eucalyptus trees shading the wide lawns, to the sunlight streaming through the Museum of Man tower. The people in the park are characters waiting to be born too — from the man in the business suit hiking through the canyon (why? where is he hiking to?) to the guy in a red polo shirt guarding the line of black SUVs parked along Balboa Dr. My mind spirals with ideas of who these people are and what they’re doing… and stories are born.
What inspires you?