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by Ruth Douthitt

Do you think of inspiration as solely divine? I do, except when it comes to my current work in progress.

I was inspired to write my current mystery/thriller for kids by giving a spelling test to 6th graders.

Not what I consider to be divine influence, but whatever works! And God is sovereign over everything.

So, how did a spelling test inspire me to write an entire book? Let me tell you the story…

At the school where I teach, for spelling tests we are asked to state the spelling word, and then use it in a sentence, and then re-state the word. Sounds pretty easy, right? It is! But this particular day, I noticed something about the spelling words. They seemed to tell a story: A ghost story about children under the ice of a frozen pond.

Or maybe it was just my strange imagination? Either way, as I stated the words along with the sentences, I noticed a story forming. And so did my students. They loved it! By the end of the spelling test, they were asking for more details into the story and how it would end. That gave me motivation to write it all down. Now my story is about a boy who discovers the ghosts of the children under the ice and decides to solve the mystery behind their deaths even if it costs him his own life.

That was back in 2005 and today my story is completed. Of course, I wrote two other books in the meantime, but it feels great to finally have finished this “spelling test” story. I can’t wait to send it out to literary agents.

I find it interesting how writers are inspired to write. Bible stories, my son’s life experiences, my own life experiences, sermons, songs, and movies have all inspired me to write my books.

What has inspired your current work-in-progress and why? I’d love to know.

As a writer and a teacher, I make sure I can explain the inspiration behind each of my stories so my readers and students can know more about the message behind the story they are reading. This creates connections. It’s those connections that create bonds which make your readers want to read more of your work.

It isn’t always easy to remember the inspiration behind your work, but in doing so, you just might learn a little about yourself, too. I learned that I was good at making up intriguing stories after I gave that spelling test. I also learned that inspiration for a story can come from anywhere. Lastly, I learned that writers can form a unique bond with their readers just by sharing the inspiration behind their stories.

You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it. ~ Neil Gaiman

Ruth DouthittAuthor, Ruth A. Douthitt, lives in Phoenix, AZ. In 2004, she completed The Dragon Forest which was picked up by OakTara Publishing in 2008 and released in April 2011. Ruth is currently revising book 2 for OakTara and will begin writing book 3 of the trilogy this summer.

Comments 0

  1. I love hearing the inspiration behind people’s stories! My own book was inspired partially by the fact I love music and musicals, and also by the fact that I lost my mom to cancer when I was 19. That inspired me to write stories about mothers and daughters, because that’s such a special relationship to me.

  2. One story I’m working on came to me while I was watching the news. This woman had amnesia for 10 years, and she was just now telling the police. I wondered why anyone would wake up one day, not know who they were and not go to the authorities. Well, maybe if they woke up and didn’t know who they were and there was a dead body in the room…and they had a sack full of money…yeah, that might make someone not go to the authorities. And a story was born.

    Great post!

  3. Ruth, your spelling test story is so cool! I love when stories unfold organically. I’m a big believer in divine inspiration, and also in the subconscience’s percolation. A lot of my inspiration comes when I’m sleeping. A short story I’m currently working on came to me when I woke up at 4 in the morning and was drifting between sleep and consciousness. (More details here!
    Often I get writer’s block until inspiration comes around again. I hate it when I have to force the words and it feels like work, but I have those days, too.

  4. Grace-

    Wow! That’s great that your inspiration comes when sleeping! I guess that’s how Stephanie Meyers came up with the Twilight series. She woke up from a dream and started writing the book.

    I know what you mean about forcing yourself to write. But at least we are getting some words down on paper/computer!

  5. Most of what I write comes from life experiences. I’ve been involved in ministry most of my adult life, and I worked for nineteen years at Teen Challenge, a Christian drug and alcohol rehab. I’ve seen the best and worst in Christians, but God remains the same. God redeems, and restores. People fail, but God never does. I touch on heavy topics when I write, because even in the midst of human frailty and imperfections, a perfect God still reigns.

  6. Leola,

    I’m familiar with Teen Challenge here in Phoenix. I can see how you would be inspired after working with the teens! I’m sure you met some unforgettable characters, too.

    Yes, you can inspire many with how God redeems and restores!

  7. I was reading the Old Testament story where Elijah brings the widow’s son back to life. I began to wonder, what it would be like to have gone to the other world, and then come back. What would it be like on the other side? How would your life change afterward? Then I thought about the widow’s strange question of the prophet – “Have you come to remind me of my great sin and slay my son?” What sin could that have been? I thought about the times – Ba’al worship was being promoted by Queen Jezebel, a former princess/priestess of Ba’al – known as Melqart in Israel. Jezebel was from Tyre, a Phoenician city state. The widow and her son also lived in Phoenicia. Hmm. What was the link? And a nugget of thought grew into a rough story idea that began my novel “Rain”.

  8. That’s amazing, Dana! Interesting how you began to imagine so many things about that Bible story.

    Sounds like an incredible story! Can’t wait to see it come to fruition.

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