I enjoy objects that are both beautiful and functional, thereby pleasing my aesthetic and practical sides. For this Visual Inspiration mini-workshop, I’m using three-dimensional arts and artifacts–furnishings, statues, pottery, plate settings, jewelry boxes, mirrors, masks, and more–to spark story ideas. Check out the Smithsonian website for tons of art to browse through. Pick something (or more than one thing) that catches your eye.
I’m going to use two examples, since I had a hard time picking just one.
My first one is actually two statues from the Indus Valley civilization–the priest-king and the dancing girl. I have an emotional and familial connection to these pieces, since my father grew up close to the ruins of Mohen-jo-daro. I’ve walked in the excavated streets and peered down dug-up wells and peeped out through the windows of these old old buildings. I am intrigued by these ancient statues and the obvious and inferred disparity between them–disparity in power, gender, clothing (or lack thereof). Juxtaposing those two statues, I’ve had glimmerings of what might some day be a story–sacrifices, immortality, river dolphins, ritual, dance, childhood. The questions I’ve asked myself: Who are these people? Why were they important enough to make statues of? What rites and functions did the priest-king and dancing girl perform? And most importantly, how might they have related to each other?
Part of the premise of my current work-in-progress was sparked by Faberge eggs. I started with the following questions:
What is the purpose of this object? What other uses can I come up with? Faberge eggs are curiosities, intended to delight and surprise. But perhaps you could hide something in them. A small piece of jewelry, a will, a property deed, a love letter.
Who would own or use such an object? Somebody rich, powerful. Or someone obssessed or gifted with amazing artistic talent.
Who has it now? Here you can twist the answer to the earlier question. In my example, the egg has passed through the hands of a mafia boss, a pudgy accountant, and now is in the possession of water elementals.
Who wants this object and why? My protagonist, who is being threatened with the loss of everything she holds dear unless she recovers it. The people threatening her, who wish that the thing hidden inside never comes to light. The water elementals, who do wish the thing inside unleased.