What Inspires You?

What gives you ideas?

I don’t care who you are; every single person expresses creativity. Some paint, some cook, some renovate their house; hell, some decorate Pinterest boards. I write. I don’t care what you do. It can be anything, but what inspires you to do it?

I’m inspired by everything I see. Stephen King works like that or at least he says he does. In his autobiography On Writing, King talked about how his inspiration for the book Desperation came from riding across the country on a motorcycle and seeing a lonely desert town with no one in it. He started to wonder, “What if a police officer went crazy and killed everyone in town?” Desperation was about more than that simple concept, but that was the nugget. That’s where it began. There is a hotel just like The Overlook, which inspired The Shining.

I’m an unapologetic fan of TV and movies. To a fault even. Unfortunately, I sometimes watch TV and movies at the expense of my writing. I’m getting better. Leave me alone. Anyway, I got the “nugget” for Titan from Terminator 2: Judgment Day‘s villain “T-1000,” a robot made of “liquid metal.” T-1000 could look like anyone he touched and make weapons with his limbs.

I thought it would be cool if a good guy had those abilities. Titan was always a person, not a robot, but the robot/technology origin remained a part of my thinking for awhile. In fact, originally, Titan’s suit was made of nanobots that could also hack computers and take control of technology. Over time, that morphed into a mishmash of liquid metal that lived in his bones and eventually became less specifically metal, but elements and ores. The end result: Titan’s suit is made up of the same material that existed at the moment of The Big Bang and “unique elemental properties” yet to be fully revealed. In fact, Titan’s suit doesn’t really even work like liquid metal — it behaves like fine fabric threads that come from his pores and interweave around him.

But in the end, all of that detail and thinking came from me wanting a superhero that could be bulletproof and make his own swords, knives, or whatever. A rich mythology about where the character comes from, who he is, what are the threats he faces is still coming together even now. But other influences have guided me towards thinking about the Endgame. In other words, I know how Titan ends in broad strokes.

Sometimes a song on the radio will get the wheels turning. I imagine what sequence might play out with the song playing. It’s like a movie running in my head. I listen to music when I write. More often than not I listen to movie and TV scores. I also listen to this music when I drive home from work. It helps me decompress. More than anything, thoughts run through my head about characters, situations, and even snippets of dialogue.

Sometimes it’s just an image or a picture. I drive to work early in the morning. The sunrise sky is brilliant. I’m most inspired when it casts red ribbons across the morning clouds. The other morning the cloud front was a tall, silver wall with the sun scratching at the top to be seen. I think about my characters looking up and seeing that horizon. I wonder what they’re doing. What they’re thinking about. What are they feeling?

What inspires YOU?