Tagged with "inspiration"
It's All in the Name
Category: Writing
Tags: writers abroad creative writing settting place names inspiration

 

As some of you may know I’m travelling around the coast of Ireland, North and South, on a trip down memory lane with my husband, Simon who grew up near Belfast.

As we’ve been negotiating the beautiful – no, stunning – landscapes I’ve been struck by some of the wonderful place names they have here. In Southern Ireland, the place name signs are written in Gaelic as well as English, which is even more enchanting. A name gives a sense of what we might expect… or not. For writers, these names can be an important part of the whole story, as places and settings, can be as powerful as characters with their own personality, challenges and romantic notions.

Favourite Famous Fictional Place Names

  • Hogsmeade – features in the Harry Potter tales and is the home to Hogwarts, the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
  • Castle Rock – appears in many Stephen King stories, a typical town with dark secrets
  • Middlemarch –  the 19th Century fictional town created by George Eliot and features as the title of her novel.
  • Bedrock – a prehistoric city and home to The Flintstones
  • Ambridge –  the fictional village which serves as the centre for the long running series ‘The Archers’ on Radio 4
  • Atlantis – a legendary lost continent supposedly sunk in the Atlantic Ocean

Need help with defining some new settings for your story? Here are some Place Name Generators which may do the trick. (Warning! Many of these will generate all kinds of stuff and you could find yourself still playing around hours later…)

Fantasy Name Generators

Springhole

Name generator

Writing Exercises Name Generator (will even provide descriptions!)

Pseudo Elizabethan Place Name Generator

Or just take a map for some inspiration. Here are some that I’ve come across on our trip thus far (all Southern as we don’t cross the border for another week…

  • Mohill – the Gaelic is Maothail
  • Knockawaddra  - there are a lot of places beginning with Knock, some could be funny, others a little bit more surreal
  • Bunacurry – the Gaelic is Bun an Churraigh, and it used to have a monastery.
  • Inishbofin- a very small island off the coast of County Galway
  • Achill Sound – the Gaelic being Gob an Choire

I’m sure to those familiar with Ireland these names will not be new, but for me having never visited the country (or should I say countries?), or spoken Gaelic before, it will be somewhere I will return for inspiration.

Where do you get your inspiration from for your setting names? Are they based on real places, fictional ones or a mixture of the two?

Source of Inspiration
Category: Writing
Tags: writing inspiration travel

Source of Inspiration

Travelling is my thing. You could almost call it an addiction. I started at 20 years old when I emigrated to Australia, but I didn’t stop there and have been travelling ever since, whenever I can. It’s hard to say which is more important to me or makes me happier – travelling or writing. Basically, I can’t do one without the other. So it’s hardly surprising my first published work was non-fiction in the form of travel features for magazines.

It wasn’t until I was a member of Writers Abroad and became more confident (and successful from time to time) that I realised I could use the same material, gathered in my travels, for fiction. And I also found this much more fun. And more fulfilling. Apart from what I write from our members’ Monday Muse prompts which often come totally out of the blue, just about everything I write includes a setting taken from my travels.

A couple of months back I went on a camping trip around Namibia, travelling with like-minded (mostly!) folk in a small group. Sharing my life, from sun-up to sun-down with ten other people I’d never met before was quite an experience and in this situation I got to know them quite well. It would probably surprise them – if not you, as writers – that several of them, especially the stronger characters in the group, will turn up in one form or other in my fiction. Some already have. Along with certain situations experienced there. At times there were scenes that reminded me of William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’. If not as dramatic, a peppering of poetic licence could make them so.

It’s rare for me to base characters on my friends or to use a setting from just outside my back-door. For me, both these are too familiar and don’t inspire me, although I admit it occasionally happens. Rather, it’s extraordinary places and novel circumstances that stimulate my imagination.

I know that many writers write very successfully about ordinary people in ordinary places, who perhaps do extraordinary things, and possibly more people can relate to this, which might bring them more success. It would interesting to know where your inspiration comes from. From real life? Home? Or away? Or purely from the depths of your imagination?

 

A Sense of Place
Category: Writing
Tags: sense of place writing inspiration

A Sense of Place 

How often do you look around and think this would make a fantastic setting for a story? If you’re like me, quite a lot. Perhaps because of the physical aspect of a place, for its history, or sometimes even both.

Yesterday, I visited the tiny village of Bugarach in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The world was supposed to end on 21st December, 2012, and news spread like wildfire – on line and in the press – that this remote mountain village would survive the Mayan apocalypse. The mayor took security precautions for an invasion, but sensibly remained sceptical. ‘Let’s face it,’ he said. ‘It’s the 183rd time this has been predicted.’ If nothing else, this Doomsday prediction has brought many things back into the light.

I had promised an artist friend to visit her exhibition at the arts festival held there and in surrounding villages, over the long weekend. Now, I had another reason to go as well, as it sounded like it might be an intriguing setting for a story. Would it stimulate my imagination? Many books have already been written on this village. Documentaries made.

After researching, I discovered it had drawn several writers in the past, including Jules Verne who visited its huge complex of caves and wrote about Bugarach’s underground civilisation. Then there is Rennes Le Chateau, just up the road, described in a tourist guide as the ‘vortex of Da Vinci Code madness’. And Nostradamus is said to have spent some of his childhood nearby.

They say it’s all about the mystical mountain above the village, where many UFO sightings have been reported and rumour has it that this was the inspiration for Spielberg’s ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. Strange sounds can be heard from underground. Spaceships seen landing. It is the land of myths and legends. Fascinating.

I’m sorry to report I saw no space-ships or extra-terrestials, nor did I get a chance to climb the mountain. Unfortunately the rain curtained down and the mountain remained hidden from view. But I did see some surreal art, which gave me plenty of inspiration to take home with me.

Recently, all the short stories I’ve had published or commended, have had a strong sense of place. My two most favourite places in the world (so far!) are Ireland and Australia and I find both countries give me inspiration for settings. But I need to feel drawn to a place to make the writing work, which I am with both of those. Strangely (or mystically, if you prefer) I was drawn to Bugarach as well and plan to return on a sunny day.

Are settings important in your writing? If so, do you use places you’ve lived, visited, or know well, or do you simply make it all up?

 

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