Today’s post comes from author Danielle E. Shipley, author of several novels–including new release Inspired. Find out more about Danielle below (or pop over to her site today to see my post about going from NaNoWriMo project to published novel).
When Classic Tales are Your Inspiration
by Danielle E. Shipley
A writer’s inspiration can come from many places. One of my own oft-used sources – and that of artists everywhere, in mediums across the board – is the good old-fashioned fairytale. A lot of us grow up surrounded by such tales, stories seen over and again in picture books and movies, stage shows and novels. Clearly, there are any number of ways to take a source tale and make it different. But how to make it uniquely yours?
…Oh, dear. You’re asking me, aren’t you? As if I ever consciously know what I’m doing. Like I didn’t just write and write my whole life long until I one day glanced up from my laptop and realized, what do you know, I’m a writer. I’m still trying to figure out how I got here; trying to retrace my steps to see what tricks I picked up simply by fooling around with imaginary people on the stage of the blank page. Now people are starting to look at me like I’m some kind of authority (I guess a few published books can give that impression), and I’m over here wondering if there’s any method to my madness I can share with inquiring minds.
I think there may be. After much introspection, I think I may know my unwittingly followed core piece of advice for reworking an old story into a brand new, “so you” one. And that advice is: Find what it is about the original story that inspires you.
What element of the story appeals to you? Excites you? Makes you wish, at the end, that the story had been even more about that? Locate, expand upon, and build around that, and your end result just may be a story you always wished you could have read.
In my own case, apart from the magical trimmings and trappings that make up the atmosphere of a classic fairytale world – you know, inconvenient enchantments and talking creatures/objects and other such shiny impossibilities – what I’ve always loved most is… well, love! Love at first sight, true love and its spell-breaking kiss, the love that drives the heroes and heroines to brave whatever it takes to ensure their happy ever after with the ones their hearts have chosen.
So when I set out to weave a collection of fairytales into my series of Wilderhark Tales novellas, that was my primary focus: The hearts of the characters. Turning them from the mere archetypes seen in the fairytales’ originals into individual people whose hearts beat with their own loves and hates and fears and desires and selves is what sets them and their stories apart from any other’s. It’s what makes the stories theirs, and what makes the stories mine.
I applied the same principle when tackling my take on the tales of Robin Hood. Sure, I love the thrill of fictional thievery, but at the core of it, I’m not in the stories for the outlaws’ adventures; I’m in it for their camaraderie. Their relationships, friendship, brotherhood within the band – that’s what makes me want to spend time in the Merry Men’s midst. So that became the heart of my developing Outlaws of Avalon trilogy.
Classic tales are a gold mine of inspiration. Find the nuggets that gleam brightest to you, and create away!
For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.
In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.
Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.
Or so he hopes.
Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.
About the Author: Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who homeschooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing young adult novels, she’s probably blogging about it.