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 or character 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 still belongs here.
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Anime and Manga
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was created after Kevin Eastman and Peter 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 — Live Action
- Little Miss Sunshine was apparently inspired by a speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger, where he stated that the people he hates most in the world are losers. The screenwriter took offense to this comment, believing that everyone is a loser in some way, but that doesn't make them a bad person. He wrote the screenplay to refute that kind of black-and-white thinking.
- 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 had never been written about before, 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.
- 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. That manifested into the original short story, but the full novel didn't emerge until he was trying to decide who would be the protagonist of Speaker for the Dead, until his wife suggested it could be Ender.
- Jim Butcher has 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 Pokémon. 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".
- Several books began as stories authors told to children:
- Winnie the Pooh was originally a bedtime story for A. A. Milne's son Christopher (Christopher Robin, in fact.)
- Norman Bridwell wrote Clifford the Big Red Dog for his daughter, named Emily Elizabeth.
- Richard Adams made up the original version of Watership Down to entertain his two daughters, Juliet and Rosamond, on a long car journey, and only wrote the published version because they kept asking him to after they liked it so much.
- T. S. Eliot had a bunch of Cats, and wrote poems about their nightly singing & dancing as a gift for his niece.
- Rick Riordan made up Percy Jackson and the Olympians after he ran out of existing Greek myths to tell his sons at bedtime.
- Alice in Wonderland began as an improvised story Lewis Carroll told to the Liddell Sisters. His second-most famous work, The Hunting of the Snark, was dedicated to Gertrude Chataway.
- The Wind in the Willows was originally conceived as a story that Grahame told children he knew.
- 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.
- The Pokémon series is said to be inspired by Satoshi Tajiri's childhood hobby, bug collecting.
- Tajiri's mentor, Shigeru Miyamoto, based many of his games on things within his own life:
- Super Mario Bros. was inspired by a combination of Miyamoto exploring his neighborhood's countryside, and having an interest in Alice in Wonderland, during his childhood. The enemy called "Chain Chomp" ("Bow Wow" in the Japanese version) was even based off of Miyamoto having a bad run in with a neighbor's dog that was chained to a post.
- The Legend of Zelda was also based on Miyamoto's childhood, but more so from him exploring the caves he would find around his neighborhood, leading to the series' famous dungeon crawling.
- Miyamoto gained an interest in gardening sometime between making games in the 90s, and this is what lead to the creation of his quirky real-time strategy series Pikmin.
- He then took an interest in dog breeding, and raising his own shetland sheepdog lead to him creating the pet raising sim Nintendogs for the Nintendo DS (and his later interest in cats lead to the Nintendo 3DS sequel Nintendogs+Cats to add felines into the mix). It's also worth mentioning that the name of his dog, Pikku, is what lead to the aforementioned Pikmin to getting its name.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Tom 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.
- The anonymous creator of Bad Lip Reading got the inspiration for it from his deaf mother, who had learned how to read lips. He started trying it by watching TV with the sound off, but what he thought was being said was so hilariously inaccurate that...