Have you ever been inspired from something you hate?
Which kind of works do yo pool from: good or bad? Do you look at something that's great and say, "I can't compete." Or do you look at something awful and say, "I'm staying as far away from that as possible."
Food for thought.
My litrpg, for example, is very much inspired by all the generic power fantasy ones, where the main character gets a unique class that no one else gets, figures out obvious exploits that everyone else in the world should be using, and yet somehow stays special and reaches the top in no time without effort.
So I decided to write one where the MC gets a rare special class! But... it has some pretty severe downsides to go with the positives.
And... she's not the first or only person to have it, and in fact the whole world is imbalanced by a group of powerful players who have had the same powerful class for a long time and are exploiting it fully.
So... when she comes up with clever new exploits, or finds unexpected synergies or glitches, they're all things that have been in use for a while elsewhere and she's scrambling to play catch up the whole time.
Of course, there's a reason people read power fantasy and not 'realistic' stories, so I'm entirely unsurprised by the tepid reaction. But regardless of reception it makes me happy to write something subversively mundane, where there's no permadeath or extreme pain settings or stupid game decisions like you only get one character that has to look like you, instead a safe framework where the uploaded people can play however they want forever.
That's very much a 'reaction against', but also in part it's inspired by the end of Sword Art Online, when the World Seed is released into the public domain, and I wanted to imagine a world where something like that was available, where everyone could add to an endless database of worlds and players could switch between them at will, choosing whichever world best suits them. I don't get very deep into that particular aspect, but it's just one of the many inspirations.
So using that as an example, I'm a bit of both. I take pieces from things I like and want more of, and take things I feel should have happened or deserved better, then smush 'em all together into a crazy new concoction. :)
- A Prose of Years - Oh hey this is a neat Western-style wuxia on a second chance, omg, why is there so much harem; I'm writing my own version!
- Candlelit Lives - Why do all of these darn serial reincarnator stories die? It can't be that hard. Maybe they spend too many chapters per life. Oh my gosh everything is going so fast now, stop the ride.
That said, there are a few idea I have which are wholly novel.
My favorite idea, which I do not mind throwing out there, is: Take "A Brief History of Time", transplant it into a standard western fantasy brought into a modern magitech civilization, and rather than physics, make the book about magic/history of civilization (so start with shamans in the neolithic, then the mage-god-kings of early agricultural civilizations, then.... etc.). And, as a kicker, the book is in "rough draft" with notes back and forth (and markup) between the fictional (unreliable) author and the fictional (very frustrated) editor.
sunandshadow Wrote: It's pretty common to see fanfiction written specifically to correct whatever the writer thinks the biggest problem with the canon is. :) So yes I think it's fairly common for writers to be motivated by irritation at something they dislike to "do it right".
This is what got me writing. My story, Soul Forged, started off as fanfic of the anime/light novel Log Horizon. I wanted to write things from the American servers, but I just didn't like the worldbuilding (the broken strong overskills with no consideration that other people in the game world could use them, the little information we got about the NA servers, the implication that only the main cast out of the hundreds of thousands on the Yomoto server were doing anything). I felt like I couldn't creatively write fanfic with such large elements of the worldbuilding that I didn't like.
But I wouldn't say I hate LH, I really do like the anime and I'd recommend it to people for it's interesting twist on guild politics (it's one of the few examples of LitRPG I'm aware of that doesn't instantly paint all multiplayer activities as inherently evil and solo play the only good way to play). However, I think Sword Art Online did the whole "other players are doing things in this MMO" much better than LH, even if it had other reasons I disliked the series (but again, I have a soft spot for that one, too).
I think it says more that if you started writing fanfic with the intent to "fix" the original, it says a lot about how much you must have liked the original piece to want to see it done the best way you think it could have been.
I hated that in almost all forms of media gays are portrayed as nice, the best friends, or have it being their only personality trait. So I made most of them well defined characters. They're not assholes or nice because they're gay, its because of their life choices.
I hated how in media women were portrayed as needing to be empowered when in my story they're already empowered and never ask for it. A woman has the same capacity as evil or good just as a man.
I hated how fathers on tv were protrayed as bumbling fools, or simply non-existent, so in my story fathers play a huge role in their kids lives...which is true to life.
I hate how in most western media I've read the main character makes almost no bad decisions, and if he has a bad personality trait its no big deal. My main character cheats at everything! ALL THE TIME!
Whenever I see something I hate I just fix it.
I will write that story someday, but I don't think I'm ready yet. I'm too young and I don't know if I could emotionally handle writing about that. When that day comes, I hope my book helps people.
Death. From sitting on the curb staring at my bloody hands to holding a relative's hand in the hospital as they struggled to take their last breaths to seeing it happen just instantly. Done. Gone. Death in some ways has inspired my writing.
War. This one used to be fairly common among writers, and now, thankfully it is not. Tolkien was inspired by the horrors of industrialized warfare, David Drake by the terrible things he witnessed in Vietnam. The things I saw, experienced, and did, has inspired my work. As much as I hate what happened, it so mixed up that it's almost impossible to explain to anyone who has never been what it's like.
Natural Disasters: Flood, fire, tornado, earthquake. Not something anyone likes. But something I've taken and internalized and let my experiences inspire my writing. From seeing everything on fire and driving out hoping my tires don't melt to throwing sandbags on a river and desperate hoping we can stay in front of the river level to watching the ground ripple in front of me and literally seeing the earthquake coming my way.
Personally injury. Nothing lets you be able to describe pain like hitting the ground and staring at the sky and wondering what that ringing noise in your ears and why someone is kneeling over you mouthing words but not talking. And then the pain hits. Not little pain, not a stubbed toe, not a broken arm, not a cracked tooth. Pain. Real pain. All consuming pain. And realizing that you don't get to sink into oblivion. You have to live with this, hang on to it, just try to make it. I hate pain, I hate getting injured, but I use it in my writing and it's inspired a lot of things.
Human Cruelty and Abuse: I've seen it, endured it, and tried to stop it. Something I hated, but that too has inspired my writing. I've seen some horrible shit happen, growing up in grinding poverty with no way out but bad choices, and it's all inspired and changed my writing.
Slow Creeping Horror. There's no way to fully describe, quickly, how much I hate the way horror can become banal and pedestrian, and it's not until much later you can look back and go "my god, that's fucked up." An example? How listening to the news and hearing the casualties from Vietnam for the day, and how every Friday night the TV station would run the list of names of those killed and wounded in Vietnam and I'd hold my sister's hand with my heart in my throat while she read the names and my mother loudly did the dishes because she couldn't bear to look at the TV. How that was normal. Something that horrible, was a childhood memory, became the normal. I've let that inspire my writing too.
Lots of things I hate and have hated have inspired my writing.
Luckily, the good things have outweighed the bad.
Life is rough, life isn't fair, and life is pain.
Just remember: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3D8qyJ-xyo&
The biggest instance for me, I'd say, is the entire way I write romance. Growing up in the late 90s/early 00s, a lot of romance in media that I was exposed to as a kid consisted of "couple gets into argument over minor misunderstanding" or "guy doesn't accept no for an answer and repeated crosses boundaries with gestures of affection to try to get girl to say yes and it's played as romantic" or "once the will they/won't they pair of characters officially enter a relationship, there's constantly arguments and conflicts between them purely because we need to have some drama in our story still" and I don't... I don't like it. I've seen a lot of unhealthy relationship behavior in romance-oriented media that would be a red flag in real life.
Granted, the stories I write tend to have romance as a subplot that takes a backseat to the major plot rather than ever focusing on the romance first and foremost, but I still strive to make character relationships that we're supposed to be rooting for be healthy and believable by real-life standards specifically because I realized all the above stuff is... not good. There are also a number of character archetypes I like a lot but have seen done poorly in fiction at times or twisted into a totally different thing over time.