Wednesday, April 28, 2010
...it's "inspiration". ;)
I get inspired by the most random things. I don't really remember when I got the idea for Strings, the novel I'm currently whipping into querying shape. But I do remember when I first "saw" my heroine, Mara, which helped me to envision her character better while I was drafting.
It was during the movie Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist—which was cute, and I've heard the book is better—and there she was. I'd seen the actress before, but the character she was playing was sort of a manipulative bitch who relied on her looks.
I remember thinking: "That's her, that's Mara. That's the exact look she has on her face when she's trying to get what she wants."
Except that Mara looks like a sort of younger, shorter, darker version of Alexis Dziena, if you want to know the deets.
In other inspirational news, I watched Moulin Rouge the other day, a movie I haven't seen in a few years. Though I thought some parts were sillier than I remembered, the movie had an atmosphere that reminded me of the way I see parts of Strings.
Which made me wonder if I'm properly relating this atmosphere to the reader, if I've indeed captured the chaos and dirtiness and intrigue of both the time and place in my pages. This led me to second-guess what I'd written (as usual) even though I know that some of my strongest writing is usually related to setting and atmosphere.
Then I got started thinking about Mara again. Oddly enough, not a bit of her personality came from someone I already knew, unlike most of my other leading characters. That scene in Nick and Norah merely reinforced what I already knew about Mara, what I knew she had to be to make the story work.
Does that make her less "human"? Less real? I see her so clearly in my head (partially because of Ms. Dziena—thanks, hon!) that I just hope I'm doing justice to her on the page.
Does "stealing" traits from real people automatically make a character more three-dimensional, or is that a crutch?
Don't ask me, I haven't the foggiest idea. It's all very existential and confusing, but that's what's been occupying my thoughts for the past week. You're welcome. ;)
How much do you "steal" from life, movies, or other books that has an effect on your writing? Or do you purposely avoid certain books or movies while writing so you DON'T have any outside influences on your writing? What works for you?