Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

Squeezing out Sparks: Inspiration & the Writer

Whenever I kick around ideas for a plot, I take key elements and mentally rub them together, to see what sparks are produced. As Bruce Springsteen sang: “You can’t start a fire without a spark.”

For a story to be successful, there needs to be conflict, opposition, uncertainty, some struggle the protagonist faces that will engage the interest of the reader. The conflict can be caused by others or be internal or caused by forces of nature. Think how boring a book would be if everything went right for the hero.

My current WIP Kissing & Killing has a main storyline of mercenary killers hired to murder high-profile big game hunters. They leave the crime scene awash with blood, ten gallons of it brought with them. They ‘sign’ their work with the victim’s amputated hand dipped in blood, leaving a print on the door of the room where they died. The reason for the murders is political, not altruistic, paid for by an African province declaring independence and wanting to retain control of the wildlife on its land.

Subplots involve an arsonist setting fire to farm barns and a gold digger seeking a rich older man to marry. I intend to create sparks by thrusting the subplots into the main plot.

Inspiration for the principal storyline came from three sources:

1) Seeing protests by Extinction Rebellion, where fake blood was poured.

Extinction Rebellion protesters pour fake blood over New York’s capitalist bull

2) Photographs of big game hunters posing with trophy animals they’d shot.

(David Attenborough hits out at hunters as 12-year-old admits to trophy hunting)

3) Coming across a photo of a slave staring at his five-year-old daughter’s amputated hand and foot, removed to punish him not meeting rubber plantation production quotas.

(View at your own risk. This Image of A Slave Father Looking At His Daughter’s Severed Hand And Foot Has Haunted Generations)

What sparked your stories into life?

Balancing Creativity and Mental Illness

As one familiar with long-term depression, the findings in this article don’t surprise me. Most of the artists I’ve known in my life have been troubled with some mental malady or other, and that includes writers, sculptors, painters, musicians, photographers, actors and craftspeople.


It’s good that famous people are being more open in talking about their personal struggles, as it helps to reduce the stigma of being diagnosed with depression, bipolarism, borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia.

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Jeanette Winterson

Just as we need a bit of grit in our lives to create friction, so we can get purchase and progress through being creative. Some of the best books, records, paintings, photographs, sculptures and films come from those who’ve been through the turmoil of mental tribulation.

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