Toothless Letter XLook! I found a really posh word for X! Xanaduism: academic or literary research that attempts to find the sources behind works of the imagination, especially in literature and fantasy. Named after a noted study of this kind of John Livingston Lowe’s Road to Xanadu in which he analyses Coleridge’s Kubla Khan.

What does that mean in literary terms? It’s the study of sources of inspiration. Particularly for books.

Idea for books and novels don’t just spring out of nowhere, that’s why we have a word for it – inspiration. Something happens, someone says something, we see something happen, and for some reasons it lights up this little spark in ours brains, and our imagination is away.

So where can you find inspiration? Oh lots of places.

  • Books/films – maybe you see a plot you like, but think of somewhere else you can put it, another city, another time frame, different characters (it’s not plagiarism, it’s re-imagining, and consider there are only 7-20 different plots (depending on who you ask) every story will have similar themes or plots to another, it’s all about how you tell it.)
  • Blogs/Forums – online can be a great source of inspiration. I’m a member of NaNoWriMo, and there are entire threads devoted to swapping and throwing out ideas for other writers to use in their own work.
  • Overheard dialogue – okay, for me I tend to overhear my characters talking in my head, but it counts, since it inspires new scenes of developments to occur. Other places for good conversation are public transport, coffee shops, parks, all sorts of busy places. Sit down, and listen out.
  • Getting out somewhere different – cementing your butt to your chair is all well and good, but if you’ve been sitting at the computer for three hours and the cursor hasn’t moved, change the scenery. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, do something different for half an hour. I clean the flat when I’m stuck, and usually when I’m done I’ve shaken loose my brain and can force those fingers to type again.
  • Dreams – this is my big one. I dream in colour, and I dream in fantasy. Seriously, I cannot have ordinary dreams like driving or being late to work or stuff. I play manhunt with aliens in their spaceship, I fly across the mountains trying to hide from hunters, the dream I had last night involved two worlds with portals between them and a snow queen that was determined to keep them shit for her own benefits. So many of my novel ideas have come out of dreams.

Is that an exhaustive list? Of course not. The ways in which we can be inspired are as countless as the things they inspire.

Anyone got any tips they use to get the inspiration up and working?