Inspiration: The Fictional Real World

I’ve mentioned more than a few times over the years that one of the best ways to find inspiration for stories is to pay attention to the world around you. Sometimes it’s coming across a biography or a report that reads like fiction and sometimes it’s something you witness. Today I’m going to give you examples of both.

To start, yesterday I almost saw someone die. The woman in the car behind me didn’t notice a blockage in the road ahead and almost didn’t switch lanes in time to avoid hitting a guy at about thirty-five miles an hour. Considering he was standing in front of a solid object, the impact would probably have killed him. For the rest of the drive home, my mind spun out disaster scenario after disaster scenario. Partially this happened because the whole incident totally freaked me out, but it also happened because I’ve trained my brain to respond this way to sparks. This is how I process, by hashing out what could have been. I have a chapter and a half of a story that may or may not ever see daylight and it all came out of a almost-accident that lasted about thirty seconds.

Second, I recently found two different stories (both, coincidentally, on, which I have to reference for work sometimes). The first one explains the rise of billionaire Sara Blakely, the inventor of the undergarment line Spanx. The author goes all the way back to the early days of Sara’s career and chronicles the invention of the now globally recognized Spanx products. Honestly, when I read it I immediately thought it sounded like something out of a movie. Sometimes reality has better fiction than some fiction does.

The other article I found on Forbes popped up today. Apparently Vogue Magazine is finally taking a stance on two incredibly important issues within the fashion industry: underage workers and eating disorders. According to the Forbes article and a statement released by Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Vogue plans to follow these six guidelines:

“1. We will not knowingly work with models under the age of 16 or who appear to have an eating disorder. We will work with models who, in our view, are healthy and help to promote a healthy body image.
“2. We will ask agents not to knowingly send us underage girls and casting directors to check IDs when casting shoots, shows and campaigns.
“3. We will help to structure mentoring programs where more mature models are able to give advice and guidance to younger girls, and we will help to raise industry-wide awareness through education, as has been integral to the Council of Fashion Designers of America Health Initiative.
“4. We will encourage producers to create healthy backstage working conditions, including healthy food options and a respect for privacy. We will encourage casting agents not to keep models unreasonably late.
“5. We encourage designers to consider the consequences of unrealistically small sample sizes of their clothing, which limits the range of women who can be photographed in their clothes, and encourages the use of extremely thin models.
“6. We will be ambassadors for the message of healthy body image.”

Yay, Vogue! I think this is awesome, but, honestly, doesn’t it sound like something that would come at the end of a YA book centered around a teenage model battling anorexia?

So go forth and see the world, writers! There are so many little sparks of inspiration out there just waiting to light your fire.

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