Writers recreate – everything we write is not truly unique. It comes from outside of itself.
Everything we experience, see, read, watch, hear, is archived on some level in our brain. As we write our subconscious draws from these billions of fragmented memories. This does not mean we plagiarize. Instead, drawing from experience, our own and that of others, we recreate, innovate, change, and forever alter the original. We create; new, fresh, and unique.
One night, I lay in bed watching the opening scenes from the movie Twilight. Bella’s voice-over talks about her decision to leave Arizona. “And this will be a good thing; I think.” In deciding to leave Arizona she is right into the event that begins her story. This is “The Inciting Incident”2. As I considered “the inciting incident” in Bella’s story my mind wandered into the intricate folds of my current work-in-progress. My thoughts ran through and weighed significant details as I considered new ideas and improvements to strengthen the initial scene, “the inciting incident”, in my own work.
My story is not Twilight. But something within that movie triggered a connection within my subconscious that influenced my writing. Echos of Bella, the scene in Arizona, and her softly spoken but decisive words are recreated in the inspiration that gave me new insight into the opening scenes of my current project.
In another example of fractured memories influencing new content, I was recently working on my current novel, ruminating on it in the darkness of the night, and daydreaming through the day. In it, the death of my protagonist’s father is a significant memory but the actual event had not found itself on the page. A scene came to mind but I couldn’t grasp the details. They were hazy, fuzzy. I delved deeper, trying to gain clarity in the image so that I could put it onto the page.
Aspects of the scene I could visualize in my mind’s eye echoed other memories. The setting reflected one I remembered from The Mummy Returns starring Brendan Fraser. The rich opulence, ancient artifacts, varnished wood surfaces, and the palpable sense of old money was mirrored in the room where I visualized my protagonist’s tragedy.
In my head I saw a picture and aspects of it echoed the set from that movie. As I dug deeper into my image, as I dissected it, I discovered a mosaic of memories. That setting was made of a thousand different rooms, ornaments, experiences. I could recreate from each segment of the mosaic, but collectively they created a unique setting.
From the mosaic of our mind and memory, we can recreate and find inspiration for new, fresh, unique stories, scenes, characters, and plots. Do you recreate, within your own writing, inspiration found in books or movies? How much influence do you feel your experiences and memories have on your writer’s voice and the stories you write?
Photo Credit: 03-25-10 © Nancy Ross