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Inspire Me!

Writing is mostly a solitary effort. You look at upcoming deadlines, you think about ideas and characters you already have in mind, you might even do word wars--but in the end, what's really happening is between your brain and the empty computer screen, taking that nothingness like a lump of clay and shaping something out of it. Hopefully something riveting and thought provoking and entertaining, or at least entertaining.

But I like having company along the way. So I periodically invite my friends, readers, and fans to send me prompts--topics, props, characters, questions, and the like. In return, if one of your prompts inspires a story, I'll give you a private peek at the first draft.

Right now, I'm thinking of music and strong women. It's a long time since I did some sword and sorcery; I think that's because I read so much of it for a while; something to inspire me to do something different with that genre would be cool too. Or maybe something different with fairy tales.

And in advance, thanks for wandering the still-empty landscape of stories-yet-to-be-written with me!


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 19th, 2010 12:54 am (UTC)
Some folksongs about strong women
These should be findable at mudcat.org:

Eppie Morrie
The Maid on the Shore

If you want female anti-heroes:
Darling Corey
The Farmer's Curst Wife
Apr. 20th, 2010 03:33 am (UTC)
Re: Some folksongs about strong women
Hmm...I don't often go from songs to stories; more often the other way around.

mudcat.org--cool, a new place to visit. Though my internet time has been curtailed recently. Day job with no internet. But I keep on doing as much as I can.
Apr. 19th, 2010 02:14 am (UTC)
I'm not much for typical swords-and-sorcery - there's just so much of it - but I'm a sucker for 'gentleman thieves' - so lady thief trying to break into a shady Victorianesque society typically dominated by males?

Or on the sorcery end of things, there's a lot that can be done if one selects interesting 'rules' of magic. ysabetwordsmith mentioned origami mages and kirigami mages, why not embroidery magic? Hide magical items and weapons and companions to assist one in combat amidst the embroidery of one's robes. Add mystical martial arts and a problem the Emperor of Heaven has that he needs some mortal help with, stir and serve!
Apr. 20th, 2010 01:29 am (UTC)
I really like the idea of embroidery magic, it's an idea I've toyed with before. So far, nothing's come of it, I think because I find embroidery to be such a meditative practice, and stories need some excitement, or at least conflict.

But one of these days, I'll manage to hold those two contradictory mind-sets at the same time without drifting off into a relaxed, healing trance, and the story will be there. Thanks for reminding me of it!
Apr. 20th, 2010 01:56 am (UTC)
Embroidery magic is kind of the sort of thing where you prepare for weeks or months. I'd envision a phoenix-embroidered robe might make one resistant to fire, for instance, or able to throw balls of fire at one's enemies, rather than stitching for an eternity just to conjure a phoenix once. Or tapestries that open into dream worlds, where unicorns graze at moonlit lakes and at the right time, the embroidery mage can offer a gift and receive a boon.

I don't know the actual art of embroidery but it seems to me that someone would have to be very patient to practice it... And good at dealing with impatient people.
Apr. 20th, 2010 03:27 am (UTC)
Yes. All that.

I wasn't speaking of the internal logic of a story, rather I was speaking of my own mental logistics. I start thinking of embroidery and I go to this peaceful visual mind-focus, since I do do embroidery.

I don't know that I'm patient. But when I'm doing embroidery, I can slip into a nice, relaxed, peaceful state. Or maybe, I should say that I don't bring patience to the embroidery. Rather, it brings patience, or perhaps timelessness, to me.
Apr. 20th, 2010 04:33 am (UTC)
Oh okay! Well, embroidery magic also seems like a natural refuge for a creative, troubled young lady with magical talents that she can't, for social reasons, exercise with more public displays. So, the conflict wouldn't specifically arise from embroidery (unless you have some VERY competitive stitchers), but from the circumstances around her.
Apr. 20th, 2010 04:50 am (UTC)
My comments weren't meant as objections to your comments! I wanted to let you know that I read and appreciated the comments while the back of my brain was mulling them over as story-sparks.

So, to make comments on this entry, I was approaching the ideas on a different level than story-writing.

But that last comment of yours morphed in my mind just now; pity I need to go to sleep now. Pardon me while I go make notes!

And thanks!
Apr. 20th, 2010 05:22 am (UTC)
Any time. ^_^
Apr. 21st, 2010 01:23 am (UTC)
I've read a story with embroidery magic. A prospective mother-in-law disapproved of her son's choice of bride, and sewed a series of curses into a dress she made for her. A good chunk of the story was about unstitching the embroidery, sorting out the symbolism, and re-stitching it with positive symbols.
Apr. 19th, 2010 04:15 am (UTC)
>>Right now, I'm thinking of music and strong women.<<

What about a culture in which playing music requires a person to be physically or mystically powerful? Maybe the preferred instrument is heavy to carry, or minstrels have to hike up and down mountains to reach their audiences. Maybe music is a way of working magic, but is exhausting with a high metabolic cost. Who is strong enough to make it?
Apr. 20th, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
Re: Hmm...
Ooh--you're mean!

But challenges can lead to good stories....
Apr. 20th, 2010 01:46 am (UTC)
Re: Hmm...
*cackle* Yes, I'm mean.

It could be worse. Recently I was at a house concert with filkertom asking people to write words on slips of paper for song inspiration. I asked him if he wanted me to play fair or be challenging. He said write down anything at all that I wanted.

I wrote down "antidisestablishmentarianism."

And he filked that, gods bless him, with a caveman character.
Apr. 20th, 2010 03:23 am (UTC)
Re: Hmm...
Tom is amazing. Though I wouldn't be surprised if he hadn't been handed that one before.

I wasn't speaking as a writer when I said that was mean, but as a musician! :-D
Apr. 20th, 2010 04:51 am (UTC)
Re: Hmm...
P.S. The writer-me says keep on being mean. The challenging stuff is more likely to spark something unique!
Apr. 19th, 2010 06:09 am (UTC)
Magical castanets.
A massive-scale musical instrument that's played by the weather and/or tides, and the weather-witches who tune its performances.
A daughter who has "borrowed" her mother's sword from where it's hung on the wall for as long as she can remember, and gone in search of adventure.

In fairy-tale space, pied piper variations, or something with the red shoes that force one to keep dancing (possibly as tap shoes).
Apr. 20th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
I'm fascinated by the real-world experiments in making a park or building into a space where people's actions make music.

I love the setting of the massive musical instrument that's played by weather witches!!! Now all I need is a plot!
Apr. 19th, 2010 07:33 am (UTC)
While I think writing is a solitary event, you also need imput and inspiration to really do it well.

No ideas but I'll keep it in mind over the next few days.
Apr. 20th, 2010 02:09 am (UTC)
You could share your favorite fairytale, or a daydream.

Or you could share one or two of your pictures. Some of those are really cool!
Apr. 20th, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
You hardly ever read high fantasy stories where the precocious boy dresses up as a girl to find glory and fame... I'd like to read that!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )


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