A couple of weeks ago, Hubby and I got the chance to stay for a few days at Estes Park, Colorado. The boys didn’t join us. Instead they had a great time at my sister-in-law’s farm. William’s tears kept spilling out all the way to the airport on the day we left (“I’m going to miss my cousins!”). But Estes was fun for us. When we weren’t hiking the incredible Rocky Mountains (this was my first time experiencing them), we explored the town. Of course, we couldn’t ignore the huge, historic, and haunted, Stanley Hotel which overlooked it.
At first, hubby said that it was the hotel where The Shining was filmed. But this turned out to be half true. It was the setting for the mini-series, not the movie with Jack Nicholson. But more importantly, it was where Stephen King was inspired to write that novel.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never read The Shining, nor have I seen the movie. I’ve seen the first part of the miniseries since we got back. I have a hard time swallowing much of Stephen Kings works though I’ve read a few. I like his plot ideas and description. Some of his content pushes my boundaries a bit too much and turns me off, but none more so than the amount of expletives he uses. This is was especially true when I tried to read Blockade Billy. I couldn’t finish it despite how short it was.
What does fascinate me about King is how prolific he is as a writer. I enjoyed On Writing for the same reason I enjoyed Kristen Lamb’s We Are Not Alone. Both books caused ideas to light up in my head like a Christmas tree. So while at the Stanley Hotel, I remembered how King wrote about where his ideas came from.
Many people, non-writers in particular, often wonder how writers become inspired. King came up with The Shining after spending the night in that haunted hotel in Estes Park. But even he says that you don’t have to go through great lengths to come up with a plot. Suzanne Collins came up with the idea for The Hunger Games while watching TV.
The key is to simply ask, “What if?”
What if a recovering alcoholic spent the winter alone with his family in a haunted hotel? What if in the future, there was one group of people who controlled the wealth and found a way to bring back gladiator style games? What if one of Turlough O’ Carolan’s guides got stuck in present day and began to remind people about who he really was? This last “what if” was how I started The Stone of Kings.
What about you? How do you get inspired to write? Does it wake you in the night? Does it hit you while you’re doing the dishes? Or have you had to go across your country?