Inspiration from Francis Gay aka David McLaughlan

David McLaughlan treated us to a wonderful talk on Inspiration. As the man who writes both the Francis Gay column in the Sunday Post and the annual Friendship book, he requires over 600 stories a year, more than one a day. A man in serious need of continuous and unremitting inspiration.
Some quotes:
‘If you wait for new ideas, you’ll wait a long time. So you need to get on while you’re waiting.’ David McLaughlan
‘Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.’ Salvador Dali.
How to start?
Take an old idea and give it a twist or add a dimension; the boarding school story with added witchcraft becomes The Worst Witch or Harry Potter. Rip off the classics – Pride & Prejudice with Zombies, The Teenager who came to Tea, Text messages from Jane Eyre. Juxtapose contrasting ideas and characters to mix genres – Cowboys and Aliens, James Boswell writing the biography of modern characters. Take an historic character and rewrite their biography, as loosely as you like, verging on the reckless. Conversely take one of your own characters and place them in a period in the past. How would that feel for them?
Explore an alternative view of the familiar to create something unique – a female James Bond anyone? Take a familiar phrase and twist it – things that go bump in the day. Use children as a writing resource and your family’s stories. Always take something away from every conversation. Keep a box of phrases, tag lines, faces and imagine what those characters would say, or not say. Write down your ideas while they are fresh in your mind, anywhere, on the tool cabinet door, better still in a notebook that you consult frequently before you forget what the cryptic comments meant.
Ideas are like buried diamonds. As they are, they are not that important. To shine they need to be unearthed, placed in a setting, have characters invested with feelings and emotions, provided with a narrative structure and then you need to add a ‘zing factor’.
The writer’s job is to find the diamond and make it happen. Inspired? Undoubtedly.
Chris Gilbert and James Rose

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