Reality for Inspiration

Hullo, greetings and salutations! We may or may not have met yet. My name is Robert Quick. I haven’t been here for very long (a little more than a year) and I wasn’t a part of the original Ficlets when it was around. My introduction to Ficly was through Wil Wheaton’s podcast Radio Free Burrito (which you should check out!). Three things you should know about me:

1) I love science-fiction and fantasy (though I prefer well crafted ANYTHING over sci-fi schlock)
2) I am color-blind- though a friend codified it better by calling it color confused
3) My goal is to hone my writing for novels or to be a part of a group that creates stories and worlds for games.


Nearly all great art comes from a direct interpretation of reality. I am a failed artist (drawing), but the advice I got from all of my art buddies and my art books was always the same- draw what you see. As writers we should do the same, except with words.
Whether in conversations that happen around us (Guy complaining on his phone in the supermarket, kids teasing each other, or the sappy sweetness of a new couple freshly in love), or something we see (sunset that spread colors and turned trees into silhouettes, two sea gulls playing over rolling waves, or the infinite depths of space above us full of stars), it is good for us to try to describe the scene in our own words. It gives us valuable practice.

While I think that using movies to practice may be valuable too, you might run into the same problem that I ran into when using magazines as models for my drawings- they ended up looking flat and lifeless.

Many people feel that dialogue is the hardest part of writing because it is hard to make the words sound convincing. Yet conversations happen all around us.

My advice is to carry a small notebook with you whenever possible so you can jot down notes on anything that strikes you. Writing descriptions down while they are fresh create an association in the brain but they also give you a hard copy in case you forget exactly what made the waitress at the table next to you so unfriendly.

We are observers. We are recorders. We are entertainers.

Observere, Record, Entertain.

Get out there and log some experiences, it will give your writing legitimacy and make your stories shine!


  • Sir Bic

    Excellent blog post, Robert! I loved your introduction and advice. Also, I’m glad you left of the Michael Crichton critique, he’s not infallible by any means, but he is my favorite author. Referencing his work does seem to date us a bit though, doesn’t it? []0)

  • THX 0477

    Great practical advice. I’m definitely seeing and hearing things all the time around me that could translate into a good story. I’d have way more material on here if I jotted it down instead of letting it slip away.

  • smdasilva {LoA}

    I too found this site through wilw’s podcast. Thanks for the advice :)

  • ElshaHawk (LoA)

    I do keep a few writer’s journals. One is divided into tabs while the others are just composition books with things scribbled hither and thither. As time goes on, I am liking the tabbed one better! I may transfer my other notebooks, by hand, into a bigger one with tabs. P.S. the tabs are homemade, by gluing two pages together with a piece of cardstock between them as the tab.

  • neil kant

    I use my phone, and am just constantly sending myself emails with notes about the various conversations and actions I hear/see around me — especially the conflicts. It’s amazing how striking a woman’s third tug on her child’s arm can be, or how some dinner time conversationalists seem to be having all the fun of two nemesis chess players.

  • Spageti

    Come on. No more guys. This scene is way too much silliness. This is a site full of amateur ridiculousness and I don’t understand why it needs such packaging. Get real y’all!!!

  • Spageti

    Yeah, I read this again, and yeah… What would you know if you never saw, heard, felt, thought anything? It’d probably be pretty hard to write. Everything you output if based on reality. Moot point.

  • Spageti

    Also, is Quick actually Elsha? What is going on here? Why would Quick publish under Elsha? And is the stuff is parens clans? Is this site like MySpace?

    - Spageti [yUm]

  • August 2nd

    I have just been inspired to write a story about a guy that doesn’t seem to like much that goes on around him.

    Reality for inspiration… it really does work! Thanks for the blog post, Robert.

  • ElshaHawk (LoA)

    Indeed, some are really blind, deaf and/or mute to what goes on around them. While this post was a reminder to be aware, the absence of awareness is also great inspiration!

  • Mighty-Joe Young (A.K.A Strong Coffee)(LoA)

    Yeah sketti is a hoot.