The germ of an idea, or where inspiration comes from

I often wonder at writers who say that their protagonists appeared in their minds fully formed. J K Rowling claimed that Harry Potter walked into hers quite suddenly. My process has never been quite that painless. My characters are amorphous. Some I can grasp and try and pin down on paper. Others hover on the edge of my consciousness.

Even those that I put down on paper have the uncanny ability to surprise me by developing in ways that I had not foreseen. For instance, Parvathy’s Well, a story that I wrote quite some years ago, had as it’s main character a girl who was shy, overly imaginative and prone to fancy. That she had an unconscious nasty streak, revealed itself to me only as the story progressed.

So, as a writer, inspiration may arrive in the form of a movie, a snippet of a conversation, a glance, a throwaway comment…take your pick. The interesting thing is how that inspiration translates itself into words.

Right now, I have a troubled woman, someone who is tired of the day to day care of her invalid mother, wanting me to write about her. Who is she? No one I know. Will I be able to tell her story? I can certainly try. Will it be the story I have imagined? I can guarantee not. It will be the one that she wants told….tantalisingly vague as it is at this point.


6 thoughts on “The germ of an idea, or where inspiration comes from

  1. Dear P, I do love to read you. It is just as if there is always something more just around the corner, a sensation that impels the reader on and ever on: where IS this going? How fascinating to know a little of the organic, intuitive process that spills from your pen. I say, you may not know where your latest protagonist will lead you but DIVE IN … your words are like pearls!

  2. Do you think writer’s have the plot line more or less in their mind when they start writing or is it more free flowing??

    1. I think it may be a combination of both. For me it certainly is. There is a rough idea in my mind that grows quite organically. There are times when I’m “in the flow” and it’s all pouring out effortlessly….and other times when it is an uphill struggle. Strangely, it is the latter times that produce the best work. 🙂

  3. It’s funny how characters form, the process. There’s little writing on it in terms of academic insight. It seems to be an organic process, maybe we take bits and pieces and form some scarecrow personality from all of them put together. My characters tend to grow rather than be instant people. Interesting post.

    1. I agree about the characters growing organically. As a writer, you put something of yourself in your characters, but then they shoot off in some random direction, and it is a bit like, Hello? Where is this going?
      Nonetheless, it is an interesting experience, watching them develop. I am sure that even the most seasoned writers do not have characters that follow the path, per se. As human beings, we have the tendency to surprise ourselves, then why not the fictitious characters that our imagination births? 🙂

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