Authorguy's Blog

Struck by inspiration

Posted on: October 8, 2011


No, this blog is not about my latest short story, you can tell, because all the words aren’t capitalized. My story is the jumping off point for this post, though, so it seemed appropriate. Nor am I doing yet another tedious post about all the myriad places one can get the inspiration for a story from, although those will become clear in the course of it.

A story is composed of many parts, you see, and just because you the author have an inspiration for a story doesn’t mean that it covers all the parts. I write slowly, and as I write my few words a day, that gives real-life a chance to subtly screw with my text, by giving me ideas that I would never have had, if I’d written this thing at a blazing run, tucked away in a home-office somewhere.

This post is something in the way of a shout-out, to those in general who supply such inspirations, and two people in particular. The first is Esther Friesner, editor of a series of comic anthologies with a series title of Chicks in Chain Mail. Titles include Chicks in ChainmailChicks Ahoy!, Mathemagics, Chicks N’ Chained Males, and lots of others. When I was writing Struck By Inspiration (see the caps?) I found myself introducing a buxom lass in a chainmail bikini. Why? Because it was funny. More to the point, this was a story about a story with two heroes, and a third almost-hero, who was the hero. (You’re confused? I had to write the damned thing!) In the first story in the series I had introduced an archetypes union called the FHA, or Fearless Heroes Association. Obviously I had to have another such union for the female heroes, because we authors know you have to take conflict where you can find it. I called it the CCM. Not because either of the stories in question had anything to do with Ms. Friesner’s series, or referenced any of the characters or storylines in any of the books. Simply because the phrase ‘Chicks in Chain Mail’ was funny, and it worked. So my thanks to Ms. Friesner for coming up with the phrase.

The other person I wanted to thank is W.S. Gilbert, of Gilbert & Sullivan fame, but he’s dead so I won’t. He wrote a comic opera (without Sullivan) about an author writing something called ‘sensation novels’, who had contracted with an occult entity to supply him with the inspiration to churn out one such novel a week. The characters were condemned souls, punished by being forced to appear as characters of the exact opposite temper they really possessed.

One such character was called the Yellow-Haired Panther, who was usually allied with a Wicked Baronet, whose job it was to seduce and ruin the Virtuous Hero while the Baronet did the same to the Innocent Maiden. Or some such. I forget the actual terms used but you get the idea. When I introduced my CCM-affiliated female hero, she was eventually given the name Yellow-Haired Panther, although of the good sort.

I kept the words (since sometimes they’re just the right ones), but changed the meanings. Because that’s what authors do.

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