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Scott Lax Blog

On Inspiration for Writing Fiction

Students and readers -- but most especially non-writers -- ask where I get inspiration for fiction.

For me, inspiration can come from anywhere. It can be somewhat mystical: The idea for THE YEAR THAT TREMBLED came to me in a flash, sitting in Robert Frost's meadow near sunset in the Green Mountains in Vermont. (I had the idea to write a book that begins and ends in a meadow; which is does.) It can be deeply subconscious - for two new stories that I have coming out, I typed the title and everything flowed from there.

I had no idea what they would be about. I typed, "Sleeping In," and ended up writing a story about a former New York City Wall Street Trader that slept through 9/11 and ended up getting fired, then became a high-society thief. (It'll be published this week.)

I typed in "The Crack," and ended up writing a story about a chef and his new restaurant; the story begins when the young chef/restaurant owner sees a crack in his new slate patio. (That will be published in early June.)

For another story that was published recently, "Sales Call," I also typed the title - what came out of it was a story about a young salesman in 1980 who gets snowed in at a Holiday Inn in Nebraska. He meets an older, wiser salesman, and his life becomes forever changed.

I filled those stories in with all kinds of what I call shelf items - memory, observation, research, and most importantly, imagination.

(I can't really say much about my new novel -- more on that later.)

I'll write more about inspiration, but for now, here's my advice: if you write fiction, trust yourself - don't censure yourself. Don't be too self aware and let it flow. You have an entire genetic memory stored in those cells of yours. You have your mind and imagination. Use them. They'll breath life into your characters and your stories.  Read More