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Who To Write About (When You Can’t Write About Your Friends and Family)

By On Jun 6 2012, 12:02 am

People sometimes ask me, where do you get ideas to write about? I have lots of answers to that, and have taught classes on it, but today I wanted to share one of the things Rachel and I do. We do like they do in Hollywood and do a “casting call.”

No, I don’t mean we send around emails looking for resumes from actors (though, if Adrian Paul is reading this you’re more than welcome to apply). What we do is think about a “flavor” of character that we want to write, or even an actor about whom we want t tell a story, and that’s our starting place.

The “seed” for Sasha Soskoff, the main character of Burning Bright, is the figure skater and artist Johnny Weir. I don’t own licenses to any of the images of him, so I’ll just share his website. He is incredibly photogenic and, while we don’t utilize his personality at all, we did use pictures of him to inspire us when we first wrote and were getting acquainted with Sasha. Our inspiration for Neal? An underwear model from Europe. We only have one image of him. We wrote the underwear company asking about the model but they never responded.

Another treasure trove of images is the website, BeautifulMag. The founders are two incredible men who have a passion for fine art photography focusing on the male form. They were supportive of Rachel and I as we first started out and we admire their site.

We also utilize My husband is a professional boudoir photographer, but you don’t need to be a pro to have an account. You can enter the parameters of your character (for example, male between 18 and 25, long blond hair and tattoos). Let the site give you some good images to start with.

Other ways that picture prompts can come in handy is simply to germinate a story idea. My writing group the Writer’s Retreat has done this for years. We use images that appeal to us on a variety of subjects and let them suggest story to us. What’s fun is how many different story ideas one group of people can get from the same picture. The stories aren’t even in the same ballpark! It’s a great exercise to try.

Even if you never want to write for publication, you can have an enjoyable afternoon tea with friends. Brew up some yummy chocolate tea, have some dessert (make it a potluck!), and share a few pictures. Write for 15 or 20 minutes and then read your results to each other. You might be surprised at what you come up with!

A. Catherine Noon

and Rachel Wilder
Website Blog Facebook Twitter 
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Check out BURNING BRIGHT, available from Samhain Publishing

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