Inspiration For the Work YKTTW Discussion

Inspiration For the Work
How the creator came up with it.
(permanent link) added: 2012-11-07 14:39:19 sponsor: Dawnwing edited by: WarriorSparrow (last reply: 2012-12-11 18:23:42)

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Occasionally, a creator will share a story on how they came up with the idea for their work. Perhaps they attribute it to a specific event; perhaps they focused on one idea and built the story from there. Either way, it's often interesting to learn about.

This is a supertrope: if it was Based on a Dream, it belongs on the appropriate page, and if the plot was inspired by a real-life technical difficulty, it belongs on Serendipity Writes the Plot. If it's based on a real-life news story, it's Ripped from the Headlines. If someone came up with the idea based on something already popular, it's Follow the Leader (however, if they came up with the idea on their own and merely had the popular work influence aspects of it, it belongs here).


Comic Books
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was made after Eastman and Laird stayed up late drinking and drawing cartoons. One of them drew a picture of a turtle on two feet with nunchaku strapped to his arms, and they decided to develop the idea further.

Films - Animated

Films - Live Action
  • Little Miss Sunshine was apparently inspired by a speech Arnold Schwarzenegger made as governor of California, in which he talked about failure. The scriptwriters of the movie strongly disagreed with his ideas.

  • Scott Westerfeld came up with the idea for the Uglies series after a coworker moved to Los Angeles. The coworker sent an email discussing his trip to the dentist and how everyone in LA seems to have blindingly white teeth. Westerfeld began to wonder about a culture where modifications to beauty like that were the norm and those who didn't do it stood out.
  • The Warrior Cats series began when HarperCollins told Vicky Holmes to create a story about cats. She wasn't thrilled because she doesn't like cats all that much, but she decided to add things that interested her, such as lots of action.
  • The Nightshade Trilogy started with the invention of the main character, Calla. The author, Andrea Cremer, wondered what an Action Girl who could turn into a wolf would be afraid of, and built the rest of the story based on that.
  • Kenneth Oppel has a friend very obsessed with bats, and whose enthusiasm began to rub off. Oppel saw potential for a unique story, especially since bats have never been written about, and started writing the Silverwing trilogy.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island began as a watercolor painting done in front of his nephews, who were enthralled and delighted by the appearance of exotic locales with absurdly poetic names.
  • Alice in Wonderland began as an improvised story Lewis Carroll told to the Liddell Sisters. Likewise, The Wind in the Willows and The Hobbit were also originally conceived as stories that Grahame and J. R. R. Tolkien told children they knew.
  • Suzanne Collins was watching TV one night, flipping through the channels. On one channel there was coverage of war; on another, there was a reality show involving young people. These blurred together and she began to get the idea for The Hunger Games.
  • Orson Scott Card got the idea for Ender’s Game as a kid, when he tried to theorize what the military of the future would use to train soldiers in space, thus imagining the Battle Room.
  • Jim Butcher's told the story many times of how his Codex Alera came from a bet made in an online discussion board. There was a debate about which was more important, a good setting or a good plot. He bet that he could take even the worst idea for a setting and turn it into a good story, and invited his opponent to suggest one. He got back two: the Lost Roman Legion and Pokemon. After looking into the background of both, Butcher started writing, but was unable to post the resulting story to win the bet because he thought it was good enough to publish (and get paid for). It grew into a six book series, by which point he'd completely forgotten where the bet was made and with whom.
  • Stephen King was said to have gotten the inspiration for Pet Sematary from his own daughter burying her cat in a pet cemetery and his own son nearly getting killed by running into a busy road. It's also been said that he may have been inspired by the 1902 short story by W.W. Jacobs "the Monkey's Paw".

Newspaper Comics
  • Calvin and Hobbes came from a rejected strip from Bill Watterson, whose cast included a younger brother with a stuffed tiger. He was told these two were the strip's strongest characters and to develop them. Watterson thus cut the rest of the cast and reworked the strip to star those two.
    • Spaceman Spiff, Calvin's space man fantasy, came from an earlier comic idea by Watterson, where Spiff was an obnoxious space adventurer who traveled around space with his dumb assistant Fargle in a dirigible. That concept traced itself to an earlier two page comic he wrote while bored in college German class.

Video Games
  • The Pokémon series is said to be inspired by Satoshi Tajiri's childhood hobby, bug collecting.

Web Original
  • Gunnerkrigg Court: Tim Siddell was drawing pictures one day, and he decided to draw one using the unused colors from a recently-purchased pack of markers. The colors were pink, drab green, and tan, so Tom drew a pink-haired girl in a school uniform. She ended up with a bored expression on her face that intrigued Tom, so he started imagining what she must be like and what sort of school she must attend. He decided he could make a webcomic about this, and Gunnerkrigg Court was the result.
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