Using TV and movie characters for inspirationI have loved reading for as long as I can remember, and a love for writing developed at an early age as well. But along with the written word, I've also always been a fan of visual entertainment in the form of TV programs and movies as well. I LOVE going to the movie theater and watching a story unfold on the big screen while I munch away on the nachos I don't really need. As I became more serious about writing novels, I found that my viewing habits often inspired my writing. Of course I would never copy an idea wholesale, but something as simple as a character trait or a wide shot of a scene can get the creative juices flowing and send your writer's brain off in interesting new directions.
So let's look at several aspects of creating a novel, including the all-important characters, and see how stories from the small and silver screens can help you in the writing process.
1. Plot -- You've all likely heard of high concept. Even though it's discussed at writers' conferences as something to shoot for in our books, the examples used to illustrate it are often movies or TV shows. For example, the movie 10 Things I Hate About You could be described as The Taming of the Shrew set in a modern American high school. Fellow Noodler Colleen Gleason's Gardella Vampire Chronicles could be described as Buffy the Vampire Slayer set in Regency England. One of my YA novels was inspired by watching an entire summer of Buffy and Supernatural. The novel isn't a copy of either, but elements of each show got my synapses to firing and allowed me to create a totally new concept.
2. Character -- Out of Sight, my novel that is a finalist in the currently under way American Title contest, was partially inspired by the X-Men movies. The heroine has a unique ability, one that could be used against her if she falls into the wrong hands and one that she wants to keep hidden. But that ability leads her to a higher calling than she'd ever planned. Another aspect of character that can be inspired by TV or movie viewing is the physical appearance of your characters. I have a fat file folder full of clipped magazine photos of actors and actresses who I can use as the inspiration for characters in my books. In Out of Sight, I envision my heroine as looking like Michelle Ryan, TV's new Bionic Woman.
3. Setting -- I watched a lot of westerns when I was growing up and still really enjoy them. Not surprising then that my first manuscript was a western, an Oregon Trail story. Even when I started writing contemporary romance, I used some of those wide-open spaces of the American West as backdrops. In fact, my first published YA novel (Heartbreak River, Spring 2009) are set in the rugged mountains of Colorado.
Do TV shows and movies inspire your writing? If so, how? I'd love to hear your stories.