I have been writing plays and stories since the age of 10. I began to work in theatre at around the same time and I was able to use this as an outlet for my very vivid imagination. But where do all the ideas come from? How do I get motivated to write? Most of my work is the results of being inspired to write stories that I see in my every day life.
In a recent conversation with a friend we discussed what inspired me to write and how I went about it. I love to observe the world and what it brings to our every day life, if you take every situation you see, everything you come across to and experience, there is a story behind it. What you need to do is use your imagination to bring it to life.
Let me give you an example; this weekend I was in London visiting the city with friends from Spain. We were all staying in a hotel and even though I have lived in London for many years and know the city pretty well, I still enjoy the adventures this great metropolis offers everyone who comes to see it. But it was not London that inspired my next idea for a play/film script; it was actually an incident we saw.
We were going back to the hotel after a long and exulting day walking around London. We headed towards Oxford Circus, one of the busiest central London underground stations. We went down and just as we entered an alarm was sound and we had to evacuate the station. This was not a fun activity, as exiting as it may seem, because you can imagine hundreds of people trying to go through the gates at the same time, it was chaos! And even though we didn’t know what the emergency was, people became panicky and there was a lot of pushing and shovelling. We managed to get out of the station and we notice a young boy, around 10 years old walking around with tears in his eyes. Everyone ignored him until we approached him at the same time as another man. The boy was lost and did not speak English. The man offered to take him over to a policeman and we continued on our way.
This story brings in some interesting thoughts – first how terrifying it is to get lost in a foreign city, you don’t speak the language and you are a child! I did have a similar incident when I was a boy when I first came to visit London, so I could identify with the boy. Secondly how terrible for the parents! I am a parent and I know how much you suffer when you loose your child out of your sight, even for a moment, no matter how long that is. And thirdly, the people we were with were less trusting than I am and say “what if the man had no good intentions and does not take the boy to the police?” I mean, what are the chances of that? When I was a young boy, I was lucky and I was handed to the police when it happened to me but there is always that small chance it may happen. I am hoping the boy made it back safely to his mum but think of the horrifying prospect of that happening? We often say “it will never happen” but of course it could and does happen.
Now, the moment we use the words “it could happen” you have a story! It could happen so therefore it can be a story. So I am inspired to write a scrip that describes all of these circumstances taking place at the same time and suddenly, a pleasant weekend away in London can turn into a nightmare. In the story I will portray the feelings of the parents when they realise the boy is gone and how they deal with it. You may think, “come on, the kidnapping story? It’s been done before” Many stories have been written some way or another so this should never be a deterrent for anyone to write their own view on this story, audiences and readers love to see/read different possible scenarios around the same theme.
Anything from a lost boy in the street, a song you listen to on the radio or your own experiences, these are all vehicles of inspiration that allows anyone to bring stories to life in whatever form of art you use to express them. In a play, a book, a painting, a statue or a song, these all come from something that was triggered by inspiration to portrait what you saw, heard, or remember.
Now, how do you go about it? Personally, I do have an odd method of writing. I tend to get the inspiration and then think of the title. I don’t know why, but having a title helps me visualise what the story is about. And very rarely I change the title, I may modify it slightly but in general it remains the same from its first appearance. I guess I see it as someone’s name. When we are born we are given a name and then our lives shape around that name. Often people’s names are a reflection of their personalities, think about it. When you’ve known someone for a long time, they are “Richard” and it would be odd to call them anything else, and you can almost say “this is Richard, he could not be called anything else” well that’s how I see my stories. So the incident I just told you has a title already “The boy who was lost” and there are many reason for this title but one that defines it is because for us and anyone else not close to the boy, he was just a lost boy with no name. Part of what I am trying to portrait in this story is in the title, how little we care when we take a “it could never happen to me” or “thankfully it was not my son” attitude. Titles are a powerful selling point of your story.
I can be inspired to write a new story by almost everything I see, there is enough stimulus thrown at us, what you have to do is find it, hold it and get it down on paper. And remember, there are no stupid stories, only those who are never told!