I was talking to an author friend recently, and he mentioned that almost all his inspirations came in visual form. "Image is how I write," he told me. "I begin with a compelling image and try to explain it to myself. It’s the seed from which a story sprouts."
I gather this is the case for quite a few writers. Certainly, I read lots of blogs discussing how authors use movie or television stars as the models for their characters. Several of my favorite authors have commented commented that they tend to base her heroes on their latest "crush".
I'm not like this at all. With one exception, I've never started a story with a clear visualization of the hero in mind. By the time I'm well into a book, I do have mental pictures of my characters and the setting, but for me, the words come first.
Several of my favorite stories had their germ in the words of a title. I'd been writing rather "heavy", emotionally intense erotica, and I thought to myself, "I really need to write something lighter, something sexy and a bit frothy, just for fun. A real crowd pleaser." In a flash, I had the title, and then the basic premise, of my short story Crowd Pleaser, which you can find in the free reading section of my website.
The Antidote started the same way. In this case I'd been writing a lot of romance, and I had the urge to create a story to counter-balance the monogamous, happily-ever-after work I'd been producing. I wanted to write a really filthy tale about sex for the sake of sex - an antidote to too much love. All at once, I knew the story I would write, about a world in which the government has biologically suppressed sexual desire and in which underground sex clubs dispense the drug to undo those effects.
Yes, I'm definitely a word girl. Hey, two of my books feature Scrabble games! My upcoming release Hot Spell got its start as a title. The plot and characters flowed from the name.
The only story I've penned that was inspired by an image is Wild About That Thing, due out from Total-E-Bound in September. I was in a blues club one night when my attention was snagged by a member of the audience. He was a slender but muscular black man with a shaved head and gold-wire-framed glasses. His handsome face was compelling by itself, but what really grabbed me was his attitude of total focus on the music. I really couldn't help but stare at him. And of course he didn't notice at all. Every bit of his attention was trained on the stage. I tried to memorize his features, knowing that I wanted him as a character in some future work.
The man who fascinated me that night formed the model for Remy in my tale, which just happens to be set in a blues bar. That thrilling experience was the exception, though. Normally, it's words that fire my imagination, not pictures. I guess that makes me weird. But I'm used to that.