Welcome to the Dragon's Pen, the blog of an aspiring kiwi author ... chatting about reading, writing, querying and publishing

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inspiring the Muse

Caution: Un-writerly types BEWARE.
This blog is about Muse. It may lead you think I am completely insane or cause your head to explode. I take no responsibility for either outcome. You have been warned.

Muse. What is it?
My answer to this question is that Muse is the inspiration and the magic that transforms an image, or a song, an idea or a word ... an anything into a concrete something else. Ie: a story plot, scene, character.

According to the online dictionary a Muse is: the spirit that is thought to inspire a poet or other artist; source of genius or inspiration.

Some people say their Muse has a form, a personality. They look to animals or mythical creatures - the unicorn seems to be especially popular - to bring their Muse to life. I don't know if I'd ever want to confine my Muse in that way, its like putting it in a box. Perhaps it's because it seems to me that my Muse changes or alters somewhat depending on the story it brings me.

What about you? Does your Muse have a form? A personality?

I find myself intrigued by the different ways a Muse can be inspired. Not every Muse finds inspiration in the same places or in the same way. Some people find music especially inspiring. Others are visually stimulated. Some find it in the things that happen around them, in what people do and say.

I'm very much a visual person when it comes to finding inspiration for my stories. Art. Photos. Movies. I find inspiration in all these things, especially in pictures.

Sometimes I'll see something and it'll just hit me. An experience not unlike being shot by Cupid's arrow. Other times, I might be writing about a forest or a wood and need some inspiration, so I'll troll though hundreds of pictures to find the one that captures the kind mood I want to invoke in my reader. (I love google!)

When I find it the Muse kicks in. I can see and smell and hear and feel that place. I'm there. It's real. And that's just what I need to insure I take my reader there too.

This is one that inspired one of my forest scenes:

I find this method especially helpful when building characters. I know who they are in my head and what they look like, more or less, but I'm not an artist by any stretch of the imagination. I cannot give my characters shape apart from the words I use to conjure them and yet I can find something of them in the art of others.

This also works well when I've been away from my work for a while and I need to get in touch with my characters again, fast. A picture can pull me out of reality and back into that other place and time in a snap.

What about you? What gets your Muse going? Where do you find your inspiration?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Spending time with Jamie Fraser

Well, school holidays are over: school is back.
So is the muse.

I don 't know about you writers out there who have children, but I found having my kids home, as nice as it was, totally cramped my style. I couldn't write or edit for more than a few moments with out them interrupting me to ask a question. So between kids and work I found I wasn't really managing to achieve anything much when it came to my writing.

I did manage to read quite a few good books though, plowing my was very happily though the first four of Diana Gabaldon's books, with a few others thrown in for good measure.

I have really enjoyed reading Diana's books, her characters and their stories are very compelling. I love Jamie. Somehow, she has managed to capture the essence of the dream man - loyal, honest, dangerous, sexy - and he is so human. He makes mistakes, he's by no means perfect, and he scratches his butt. He is so charming and endearing and let's face it, the kilt and the Scottish accent .... swoon.

A while ago the editor Nathan Bransford (I think this is right) asked his blog readers who their all time favourite literary hero was. The over whelming favourites were Diana Gabaldon's Jamie and Jane Austen's Mr Darcy, but no one seemed able to pin point why these two men are so popular. What is it about these guys that gets our blood going?

At the time I hadn't read Diana's books and was intrigued by Jamie Fraser's popularity. Having now read half of them I'm pretty certain it's Jamie humanity that wins the heart of the reader. Too many times in novels writers try to make their heroes perfect, they almost seem like demi-gods. But in my humble opinion, it's a man's imperfections that tug at our heartstrings and make us fall in love with them.

Note: Diana Gabaldon's books are R16 (they contain coarse language, violence and sexual scenes)