The other day I was telling a friend about my latest novel. He looked at me and with wonderment in his voice asked, “Where do you come up with these ideas?”
To be truthful, I had never considered the question of inspiration before. Things happen in life, and almost anything can be an inspiration for a story, but only if you can write it with verisimilitude. If you can make a story believable, no matter what the subject, science fiction or real life, set in the past or the future; if the story is presented in a believable manner, the reader will buy into the premise. If you haven’t set up the story with verisimilitude you have failed before the first word was written. I remember reading the late Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and, on a dark and lonely night, looking outside to see if there were any velociraptors wandering about the neighborhood. Crichton made an unlikely event believable by introducing the reader to the science of cloning and Chaos Theory. I was hooked from the start.
When I was in the seventh grade my class was given the task of writing a short story. At twelve years of age, I wanted to write a story that would inspire. My story had tragedy, a unique setting and a fulfilling ending, but I hadn’t done my homework and I placed the story fifty years before it could have happened. The tragedy, an automobile accident, could never have taken place at the time I set the story. After reading the story to the class, the teacher said, “You know, Larry, the automobile wasn’t around in 1850.” I was crushed. I went back to my seat, embarrassed and humiliated. In reflection, I learned a valuable lesson. If you are going to write about something, make sure you do your home work. Your writing needs to have verisimilitude.
If I think I can write a story with verisimilitude, then I am inspired to write it. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter what the subject, what the setting, or how fantastic the plot is, if it’s not believable the story will flop. Be inspired to write your story, but do your research. I learned a valuable lesson in the seventh grade. Verisimilitude, verisimilitude, verisimilitude.