By Maddie, Denier of Eggs
When I was creating Eschaton Island, there were times where I felt completely stuck, both pre-game and in-game. I knew who my characters were, I knew the general flow of the story, but I couldn’t nail down those specific details that makes the story believable. I felt like there were aspects of my story that were, for lack of better, like plain grits. Are they edible? Of course. But are they memorable and do they make people want to gobble up your story? Well, probably not.
One of the most helpful things that I did to pull myself out of these holes was to look for inspiration where one would generally feel that there is none. I dug deep into not only myself but into the psyche of others. I thought about my little brother at Brighton’s age, and his antics, personality, and struggles. I tried to give the tiniest bit of humanity and life to Miles, because, after all, we all have emotions and issues beyond our profession, even if that is a maniac doctor. I asked myself what kinds of stresses a doctor running a secret would have. Loneliness? Check. Drug addiction? Of course. Regret, shame, and angst? Why not!
I also observed the world through the eyes of my characters. I asked myself how Brighton would respond to various interactions I had, versus how Miles or Cord would respond. There were times where I actually started taking on the mannerisms of them. I didn’t let myself decide how they would respond, as if I were writing, but I just got myself into the mode of whoever I was developing and let it flow. It was surprising, due to the fact that so many facets of my plot and characters were uncovered when I allowed myself to have the mentality of a young teen, or an uncle with a long lost nephew, who he now feels responsible for.
Find inspiration in art. You may be saying “But Maddie! Art is easy to be inspired by!” In creative writing, we often neglect the fact that we can take so much from other creative processes done by others. It’s easy to look at a painting or hear a song and take it at face value, but it helps to ask yourself why the artist chose to make the art the way they did. What can you take from that? How can you emulate that to create a cohesive and worthwhile story?
Finally, find inspiration in the crazy ideas that cross your mind. When you have a completely absurd idea in the middle of the night, or during a meeting, or on the highway, don’t dismiss it! Build on it, and use it because the craziest ideas turn out to be the best end products. If you can’t use the idea, or it is too outlandish, ask yourself where you got that idea, and go back to that place in your mind. You’ll be surprised at what you will find.