By Kariss Lynch
In an information age, inspiration is often muted, masked, and downright frustrating to identify. It can be even more difficult to figure out where to start when beginning your writing career or beginning a new writing project. Inspiration then becomes a process of discovery. Something you search for until the story begins to fall into place.
But where to start?
I’ve heard it said that one should begin with what they know, but I’ve found that it takes much more than what you know. What do you want to learn? Where would you like to visit? What character do you want to create that God hasn’t decided to make an actual human being quite yet? Make a list and chase inspiration. It’s an adventure. As I prepare for the release of Shadowed, it was necessary for me to go back to the beginning of the Heart of a Warrior series and remember how inspiration first sparked.
I probably spend more time on character names than is healthy, which means when I have kids someday it may take me nine months plus to figure out what name I want to saddle a tiny person with for the rest of his/her life. For my characters, I picked names I liked at random from friends on Facebook. Then I identified the meaning of those names. I already knew what traits I wanted specific characters to embody, so I chose names that captured those traits.
Navy SEAL Nick Carmichael’s name means “victory of the people.” What better name to give a SEAL who is passionate about fighting for people he loves? Kaylan’s name means “purity.” For a man of war, coming home to something pure and innocent is a breath of fresh air. It’s home. And for my bad guy? Well, she’s named after a two-faced Roman god. You’ll have to read Shadowed to learn why.
Shadowed is a tapestry of settings I either visited, created, or searched for on google earth. My characters spend a majority of their time in California. While I have never lived there, I spent four spring breaks exploring the beaches and inner cities, enough for me to capture and paint a scene. I consulted those who lived there to check my facts.
The international aspect was my favorite to write. Nick and his team of SEALs chase a terrorist to Ukraine. This is both a country that I have spent time in as well as a place I wanted to learn more about. Writing and research allowed me to explore it again.
Ultimately, my inspiration comes from the people and events around me, but also from an insatiable desire to learn more about the world. Writing is an untamable beast that morphs as we learn and grow. Oh the adventures that come from learning about our characters, their world, and ultimately ourselves. Where do you find your best story ideas, or where do they find you?
Kariss Lynch writes contemporary fiction about characters with big dreams, hearts for adventure, and enduring hope. Shaken, her first book in the Heart of a Warrior series, released in 2014. Her second book, Shadowed, releases March 3, 2015. A former freelance writer, she now works for a communications ministry in Dallas. Visit her at http://karisslynch.com/.
Thanks, Kariss! We never spend too much time on character!