Inspiration for stories sometimes comes from the strangest places. Sometimes a story will pop fully formed into my head. At other times it might take years to come together. And sometimes a story might come from a very unexpected place. Pog was one of those stories that took a long time and came from the most unexpected places. It started with a dream over twenty years ago in which I saw a creature made of wood. As soon as I woke up I knew the creature’s name. He’d been surrounded by other monstrous creatures in a forest, and I knew he could form part of a story. But what kind of story?
Time passed, and this strange creature would occasionally pop back into my head to remind me he was still there, but I couldn’t find a narrative to fit around him. I knew he was evil, and I knew he lived in a forest inhabited by other monsters. There was even a tree outside our house which reminded me of him, and it was as if the world was trying to tell me something.
One day I had an image of a family standing by a graveside. There was a brother, a sister, and their father. Like most of my stories I knew this image was the beginning of a new one, but again I couldn’t see what exactly it was. I knew this family could form the heart of something because characters who had suffered a great crisis or great change are what gives a story drama and that extra something that propels things forward. I knew if I could write a story about this family that it would have real drama and that I could show how they responded to huge upheaval in their lives. But the story refused to budge. Nothing else appeared to give it life, so I went back to thinking about other stories.
Then one day a small furry creature with a sword and staff popped into my head. I knew he lived in an attic in a big old house beside a forest, and I knew he had been assigned a special task. Best of all I instantly knew his name and what he sounded like.
I put him together with the family. I put the monster from my dream in the forest.
Everything suddenly fell into place.
I finally had a story!
One of the most important tips I give to anyone who wants to write stories is to use images of things. It could be something from a dream, a vision of a monster, an old crumbling castle. Then there’s the real world. An image of an old crumbling castle in real life can be just as good as one from your dream. It’s all about whatever sparks stories in your head. As soon as you see an old crumbling castle, a decrepit looking house, or a dark forest, you can start asking yourself questions. Who lives here? What do they look like? What if I put vampires in that old decrepit house? What if someone came to visit? It’s all about having the seeds for a story, and images can sometimes be the best seeds that can make your story grow.
Pádraig Kenny’s latest title “Pog” is published 4th April 2019 by Chicken House Books.