When I started on my fourth book, I was worried that my ideas would start to become repetitive. My current manuscript deals with a royal pregnancy meant to save my hero and heroine’s kingdoms. (I am SO excited about it!) I purposely steered away from a marriage of convenience here because my third book, The Millionaire’s Redemption, deals with a fake relationship. But that got me thinking: how do authors stay original? Where do they get their inspiration?
In my (limited) experience, writers have to use everything in their disposable as inspiration. We have to find fresh, exciting ways of telling our stories when the tropes in them have been used before. I’m sharing some of the places I’ve found inspiration for my books in this post. In the next few weeks, I’ll share the inspirations of some of my author friends, too!
Social media is an excellent way for writers to come up with ideas. For example, if you follow my blog, you’ll know part of the inspiration for The Tycoon’s Reluctant Cinderella came from a Twitter pitch competition. This immediately gave an idea I’d originally had for a book direction. Combining the two created a new angle for the boss/employee trope.
Agents, editors and publishers often share their manuscript wish lists on social media, and it’s an excellent way of discovering what experts in the industry are looking for. (Take this week’s #mswl on Twitter.) I read them as often as I can, and sometimes, as with my first book, they spark an idea that becomes a novel.
A Specific Event, Emotion or Person
My second book, A Marriage Worth Saving, is about a marriage that’s torn apart by an unthinkable tragedy. The inspiration for this book came from a rather difficult time in my family. I realised that people deal with events and emotions differently. Being a romance author, I began to think about how this could affect a relationship. And because I really believe love conquers all, I wrote this book knowing that my characters would find healing despite their tragic past.
Similarly, I’ve found that if someone intrigues me, I can imagine parts of their life, which I can then develop into a story. I would love to write Emily Blunt and John Krasinski’s story, for example. And then I can tell my husband that all the interviews I watch on YouTube are for research…
Often I’ve been inspired by simply thinking about a trope and how I could write it originally. I first discovered this when I was doing research on publishers. Many publishers offer examples of the tropes they publish in a particular line since that’s how they sell their books. The Tycoon’s Reluctant Cinderella has one of my favourites: the boss/employee trope. A Marriage Worth Saving uses the marriage reunited trope, and my third, The Millionaire’s Redemption, has a fake relationship in it.
These are all tropes that my line, Harlequin Romance, publishes. They are also tropes I love reading and wanted to put my own spin on. Before I start a new book, I’ll look at which tropes are successful and often find the sparks of a new idea there.
Music (Or Pretty Much Any Form of Mass Media)
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to a song and thought “this would make a wonderful story”. (Don’t be surprised if you see a cheating partner get the Lemonade treatment in one of my books ? ). Often I write short stories when I’m inspired by a song (my short story, The Wedding Ring, was inspired by Etta James’ All I Could Do was Cry). And sometimes, when I think a character in a movie or show doesn’t get the story they deserve, I feel like I should write it for them.
Where an author finds inspiration can contribute to the originality of a story. But perhaps the strongest inspiration is wanting our readers to enjoy what we wrote!