author, creative writing, writing

Finding Inspiration in the City

Good morning writers, and what a very hot and sunny morning it is (or at least here in England)!

I realised this morning that it’s been a while since I added to the Finding Inspiration series. I’ve done a few of these posts encouraging writers to find inspiration in many things. Some previous examples include Finding Inspiration at the Beach, Finding Inspiration in TV & Film and Finding Inspiration in History.

So today I’m going to talk about finding inspiration in the city, because I’m amazed I’ve not covered it already. I adore big cities. I think it stems from going up in the countryside and always wanting to be in a place that is bigger and more exciting. And it’s this sheer size and excitement that makes the city a perfect place for novel writing inspiration. Take a look at some ideas below.

1. Cities are great for people watching
I love people watching. I think all writers do! While plotting or drafting a new idea, I love to sit in the window seat of a cafe and look out onto the busy city streets. What happens next is a whole array of people will pass by, and you can watch on and pick up on people’s mannerisms and quirks to add depth to your own characters. You’d be amazed at how easily you can become inspired, all while sitting on your bum and drinking a cup of coffee – perfect!

2. Cities are vibrant and diverse
In big cities you’ll find a vibrancy and diversity that you don’t come across anywhere else. People of all ages, of all races, of all religions. Shops, museums and arts venues that celebrate different cultures, different music tastes, different fashions, different histories. It’s so important as a writer to come across all these wonderful differences that people have and enjoy, and to embrace them in a way that makes your characters and your stories more interesting and well rounded.

3. Cities offer a huge choice of setting
Cities aren’t just busy roads, chaotic streets and skyscrapers. In the city you’ll discover a huge variety of settings that can be used in a story. Parks, theatres, museums, back alleys, side streets, hospitals, historic buildings, luxury hotels, homeless shelters, restaurants…the list is endless. Just take a walk around a city and take in some of your surroundings; it’s amazing how many options there are just waiting to be explored.

4. Cities offer an array of possibilities
The city can mean different things to different people, and you can use this setting really well to your advantage as a writer, leading to endless possibilities. For example, the city can be a place of hope and excitement or it can be a place that feels threatening and frightening. It is a place where people can go to get noticed, to stand out from the crowd or it can be a place to blend in and hide from someone/something. There are many ways you can play about with city settings, and make a story that is unique to you.

What are your thoughts on city settings? Are you writing about a city? (If you are you can also check out my post about city settings during the world building stage of writing.)

Perhaps you have a different setting entirely. I’d love to hear your thoughts so do comment below or contact me at any time.

Until then,
Keep writing,

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17 thoughts on “Finding Inspiration in the City”

  1. Yes, I love cities and use them for settings for my novels and short stories; anyone can be there and anything can happen in a busy well known spot. I only write about cities I know or have been to. I like to picture the scene, knowing my characters can realistically walk across a bridge and find themselves at a certain place.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. While cities (at least present time ones) are not so fitting source of inspiration for me as someone writing elf-centric fantasy, they can be good for different genres. I admit that I once hoped that I’d write a sci-fi that would happen in the area of my hometown several decades into future but never got an idea that would stick. Maybe one day…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for the kind words! At least there’s a time for that, I expect I’ll need a decade to exhaust all the ideas I have for the fantasy story 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have an odd fascination with cities — there’s just something about the bustling atmosphere that entices me. Obviously there are upsides and downsides to having so many people in such a small place, but the fact that I live in the suburbs and rarely visit big cities gives them an almost magical feel for me. I haven’t tried using things that I observe in cities as writing inspiration, but the points that you listed here are very accurate, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out on my next city escapade!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There’s so much sensory information in a city that it makes it perfect for stories. Great post, thanks.
    I’m a rural bumpkin, and I prefer to write worlds from that perspective. But people watching is a brilliant source of inspiration and nothing beats a busy place for watching the world go by.

    Liked by 1 person

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