Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Inspiration: what sets the process in motion?

In her monthly column "The Ideas Store" in Writers' Forum, Paula Williams examines how fellow writers find inspiration. 

For the issue No 192, published on 14th October 2017, I was one of the three featured authors. 

Each one of us has a different method of finding that initial spark to set a story forming in the mind. Here is the way I get drawn into creating another story, as recounted by Paula.

Historical novelist Beth Elliott writes stories of adventure, intrigue and romance, set in the time of Napoleon. Her late husband was a Turkish poet and linguist, and Beth has lived in France, Turkey and England, so she has a great mix of backgrounds and experiences to weave into her stories. Her latest publication is Scandalous Lady, published by Endeavour Press in December 2016.

 'For me, inspiration for a story always begins with a picture, maybe from an advert in a magazine or even a fashion catalogue' she says. 'That’s where I saw Olivia with her red curls piled high and a provocative look - the rebel! And soon her opposite appeared, leaning over a railing, his huge dark eyes calm and steady, but from the little smile I could tell he liked to tease. It was definitely a tale of ice meets fire.
Somehow the whole setting and the plot appeared so quickly, so easily, it felt as if I was simply recording events, rather than creating them. Even the year came quickly: 1811, the year Lady Hester Stanhope spent in Istanbul -or Constantinople, as it was called then. This real-life socialite and adventurer would serve as a model for my Olivia. It was also the year the Turkish Sultan was negotiating with the Russian Tsar to end a long-running war, so my hero was a diplomat. He suspects Olivia of being a spy, and sparks soon fly between them.'


                                                               Scandalous Lady        

[Beth adds: Scandalous Lady is the first story in the series about the Montailhac family. The next story,  The Rake and His Honour, is also available from Endeavour Press ]

 PAULA WILLIAMS is a writer, speaker, workshop leader and tutor.

You can see her wide range of writing skills by following this link


  1. I often don't know exactly what's prompted a story idea - I just find I'm thinking about a character or situation and then build from there.

  2. Thank you for sharing your prompt, Patsy. It's always a magic moment, however it gets going, isn't it?