How to draw inspiration from other creative sources and turn it into your own unique idea without seeming like a rip off.

Today, many things that are written or produced have drawn inspiration from something else.

And while it may seem easy to draw inspiration from something and turn it into something of your own, it isn’t quite that simple. Especially if you want to draw from multiple sources, all different and unique in their own way.

When I was first creating my novel’s plot, I had just finished watching Inception for probably the fourth time. But I knew that I didn’t want to just create a story solely inspired by Inception. So, I began to think of other things I loved and constantly got my creative gears moving.

And while it is inspired by Inception, The Hunger Games, and SYFY’s Alice it took me weeks to figure out something that would work and go cohesively together because they are all vastly different from each other. Below are some steps I feel will be helpful in the process of meshing multiple ideas and concepts together into one plot.

Start out with the basics!

Break down each source of inspiration into their basic ideas and concepts. This is extremely important to merging ideas together because if you can’t understand the skeleton of any plot you won’t be able to create one that makes sense and goes well together.

For example with Inception the whole movie revolves around dreams. That’s the main premise to the movie. And while it’s a whole lot more complicated in the actual film, that’s structure. I knew that’s what I wanted my story’s skeleton to be — a dream world.

However, if you want to draw from multiple sources of inspiration once you have the big idea it’s time to break down the other ideas you want to work with. Once you have, it’s time to figure out how to put them together.

Brainstorm, brainstorm, and brainstorm some more.

As fantastic as it would be to meld ideas together into one the first time around — it almost never happens. One of my graphic design professors always told me to have five ideas in my pocket whenever going to a client meeting.

Process is extremely important, you don’t magically get from point A to point B. Not even Harry Potter could do it, even he had to go through the process of finding and destroying the horcuxes before he could even think of defeating Voldemort.

So, don’t be afraid to come up with multiple variations of melding all the inspirations together. Some may be not flow together at all and some may be okay, but what you’ll need to do is keep on trying until you finally get that ah-ha moment and everything just clicks.

Don’t be afraid to get the opinions of others. Of friends or strangers because while it all might make sense in your head it doesn’t mean it’ll make sense in theirs. And don’t become upset if after much explaining on your part they still don’t understand your idea. Because that’s something wrong with the way the idea is pieced together. It is not theirs.

If you become too frustrated however, take a step back. Focus on something else and then after a couple hours or a couple days go back and try to figure things out again.

Don’t over think!

That moment’s finally come, the plot you’ve written up makes sense and all the pieces have come together! The majority of people seem to understand what you’re trying to do with the plot and you’ve fallen in love with it.

Unfortunately if the plot you’ve come up with is complicated (and there is nothing wrong with a complex plot) not everyone will always understand it. Don’t let that discourage you. Try to explain to them as clearly as you can but most importantly don’t let them make you second guess yourself and your plot. Because once you do that that’s when things will fall apart and you could possibly lose the desire to continue to work on it as it’ll seem more of a chore than something that is fun.

Trust your instincts!

Final notes

At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to draw inspiration from multiple sources and twist and warp them until you have something that is uniquely your own. Have fun with the creative process!

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