How John Darnielle gets his inspiration.
Inspirational Activity: Start with a title, and then build a character
When John Darnielle, a member of the band “Mountain Goats,” started writing Wolf in White Van, he wrote one scene about teenagers smoking and then got stuck. “I had the title already, because I really liked that title, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.”
So instead of trying to build plot, he decided to start getting to know his main character: “I started asking myself questions like improvisational comedians do, like what does he do for a living? What does he wear? Who are his friends? How does he make any money? What does he wish he was? All those sorts of things. That performative element is how I wrote the book, by asking myself questions about what happens then? What if this happens, then what?”