Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Inspirations

So I'm moving 400 miles on Sunday, which means I'm packing all my things up. As I've been putting my books and DVDs into boxes, I'm constantly reminded of the things that inspired me. But why does this matter?

They say "write what you know," and I couldn't disagree more. I know some scenic carpentry tricks, I can use MS Excel okay, I know about roleplaying games, I like dissecting comedy and story structure. I don't actually know very much. I think we should write based on what inspires us.

Below is a list of some of the highlights. I'll do about five (+/- 1) from a few different mediums. In no particular order:

  1. Ghostbusters
  2. Kill Bill Volume 1
  3. Night of the Living Dead
  4. The Third Man
  5. Pontypool
  1. Marble Hornets
  2. Doctor Horrible's Singalong Blog
  3. 30 Rock
  4. Slings and Arrows
  5. The Venture Brothers
  1. Fahrenheit 451
  2. The Grand Admiral Thrawn Trilogy
  3. Tomorrow When The War Began
  4. Watchmen
  5. World War Z
  6. The Zombie Survival Guide
Video Games:
  1. Planescape: Torment
  2. Deus Ex
  3. Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim
  4. The Fallout series
  5. X-Com and the derivative UFO: Alien Invasion
  6. Doom
  1. They Might Be Giants
  2. Neutral Milk Hotel
  3. Ratatat
  4. Beirut
  5. Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  1. Orson Welles
  2. Bruce Campbell
  3. John August
  4. Gabe and Tycho of Penny-Arcade
  5. My friends and siblings
  1. Macbeth
  2. Book of Days
  3. The Mound Builders
  4. Lysistrata
  5. Three and five act story structure
Roleplaying Games:
  1. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons
  2. Deadlands: Hell on Earth
  3. 50 Fathoms
  4. Necropolis 2350
  5. All Flesh Must Be Eaten
  6. Alternity
  1. Seeing The Caucasian Chalk Circle in 2006
  2. Red Theater
  3. Doing improv
  4. All those times I stayed up until six in the morning
  5. Summer camp
Food and Drink:
  1. Harp lager
  2. Sushi (Philadelphia rolls especially)
  3. Burritos
  4. Barbeque
  5. Egg in a Basket
  6. Potatoes
Why is any of this important? I think it's good to know things, as a writer, that elicit an emotional response in oneself. How are you supposed to make an audience care about something if you don't, whether that audience is the four buddies you game with every week or 200 people in a dark theater or four million people in cinemas nationwide?

Take a moment, sometime this week, and think about what drives you to create. I'm not saying use all these things in your games, I'm saying take a minute and think about the reasons you do what you do. My games tend to feature some kind of mystery element, overwhelming odds, and an awful lot of violence; it's easy to see why once you look at what attracts me.

The wonderful thing about examining your influences is, you can get back in touch with them. And you can find things similar to those, and so learn more about the aesthetic that inspires you.

Let me know your results.

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