Inspiration for keeping the characters alive in the mind of the reader

Gaining inspiration is a key factor to my writing.
Inspiration is what drives me, fuels my desire to write.
Without it, writing becomes “tick tocking”, a term which I imagine to be somewhat like the robotic movements of some Victorian novelty: you’re just going through the motions of writing, not really living that deep idea.

But gaining true inspiration, for me, is difficult.
Well, inspiration, I have to admit, is hampered by the latent fictions that have deposited themselves in my mind after years and years of TV, film and books.
Such memories have formed a kind of “RAM” chip in my brain, which refuses to be over written!
All of those classic SF + horror tales reside in their special places, just waiting to be activated: self-made booby traps waiting to be sprung in the mine field of imagination.

The upshot of this is the fact that, having been saturated by many genres, it makes it very difficult for me to enjoy much of today’s so-called “science fiction” as much of is derived from writings of the 50s and 60s. Not wanting to put down any modern day films which are held in high esteem by people, but if you take into consideration the “Trueman show”, or “Looper” or “Take Shelter” or even the “Matrix”, I think many of these ground breaking and moving stories are the product of what we’ve already been exposed to, whether it be a short story or novel churned out many years ago.

Are we all subject to this?

“You’re ranting dude!

OK…, sorry… back to the ball game.

Inspiration, therefore, is not just for achieving the core idea(s) for your first book or short story, it also includes, as in my case, collecting extracts of life, little “copy pastes” from everything around me, which will hopefully help me to put words into the mouths of a mishmash of disembodied creatures that live in my imagination.
I want to bring them to life; give them a purpose; help you to sympathise with their plights, and also help you to get to know them, the same way I see the characters; ultimately giving you the yearning to envisage them in reality and feel their emotions.

I quickly realised that I was reading, not for the story, but for the characters.
As a “personal” example, I can give you Stephen King’s “IT”. His descriptions of the 1950s, which I assume are fragments of his own memories of that era, are so stunning, that I felt I was being drawn into the loser’s club world. King’s descriptions made me an addict, for that one book.
But, the exposition was secondary for me.
His characters were what got me hooked.
He would take a simple scene and bind you to the child’s longings, desires, fears, so much so that you were standing over his or her shoulder, looking down at a frozen canal in sub-zero temperatures of a Derry winter as a sinister clown walks towards you. God, I could see the snow flakes and the deep shadows of the day he describes in the book.
You are the fat kid, Ben Hascomb, library lover, romantic, target of bullies!

I’m not preaching King’s works, it is just one of those archived memories that has stuck with me. He creates characters that you can see.

I will end with a scene I really love.
Easy, this has the perfect colours.
I know its computer generated, but it has something.
It’s the final scene from Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch.
My private dream is that he, or someone else, will use this technique to remake “To kill a mockingbird”.
It looks so perfect for it…

Oppps! There’s a bit missing where she talks to the bus driver. SORRY!


About Philip Shiell
A creative person who loves books, films, music, writing and teaching.

3 Responses to Inspiration for keeping the characters alive in the mind of the reader

  1. smperkins62 says:

    I love that “collecting extracts of life”! So true. You make some really good points!

    • philipshiell says:

      Thanks Stu,

      I was just analysing what I’ve got to do, in a bid to avoid those pitfalls I mentioned.
      I write fiction, but much of it is based on reality; it has to be.
      I loved your piece “Weeding baby Wendell”
      Please do more of this.
      It’s so full of colour and heart. Simple, yet powerful and moving

      • smperkins62 says:

        I appreciated your comments, very much. I’ve never taken any writing classes, so I’m sure the technical aspects of my writing probably horrify some! But I love the stories that are out there in everyday life. How can I not write them down! I look forward to coming back often to your blog.

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