This is something I've always wondered. I know a few fellow writers, but they're all a lot like me. They get their inspiration from just about everywhere. I'll be watching a movie or a book and see a plot twist or a wicked power and thing "I want to use that!" Yes, I know that's stealing, but I don't use the idea exactly as is. I use the basic premises of the idea.
And that's not all. I'll twist the idea to suit my needs until I come up with something that is so diffrent that it doesn't even vaugely resemble the orginal idea. Let's use Harry Potter as an example, since I'm pretty sure a lot of people have either read the books, seen the movies, or know what it's about. The basic story is a boy that finds out he's not what he thought he was all along. He's dropped into this magical world where he's not hated but viewed as some kind of hero for something he didn't even remember.
I would take that idea and twist it a bit. Okay, so he doesn't know he's a wizard. Well, a wizard is basically a human but with magic, right? So what if he wasn't even human? What if he was actually a... I don't know... shape shifter of some kind? What if when he turned eleven years old, he went through shape shifter puberty and all of a sudden he had to deal with these new senses, this new strength, the freaking tail. And he'd have to do it all on his own, because there was no one else to explain it to him.
Well, that takes it away from him being a wizard that's going to be whisked off to school, but why wouldn't anyone explain to him? One would assume that, if he's a shape shifter, his parents were shape shifters, yes? Well, we could go with his parents being dead and him being in the care of his aunt and uncle, but that's too easy an answer. So what if he was kidnapped when he was just a little baby? Let's say the woman he thought was his mother was actually some insane broad who saw this cute little kid playing in the sand and whisked him away.
Okay, so, he's a shape shifter who doesn't know he's a shape shifter until he turns eleven, living as the son of a woman who actually kidnapped him. Getting further and further away from Harry Potter. But I don't write kids well. I don't understand them. Hell, I didn't understand them when I was one of them. So, let's make him a little older. Let's say 15, I can figure out what goes on in a teenager's head easily enough. More easily then an eleven year old brat, anyway.
So now we have a fifteen year old boy who wakes up one day furry. What he doesn't know but will learn is that his mother isn't his mother, just an insane woman who kidnapped him. Well, that would explain a lot of her eccentricies and why they were constantly moving around. But that still leaves his real parents. You'd think that they'd be looking for him all this time. So why haven't they found him?
What if they couldn't because the woman who raised him kept moving him around, and as a child he didn't have a distinct scent? But once he hit shape shifter puberty, BA-BOOM! Unique scent that his folks could use to track him... if they knew what it was. Well, that explains why the real folks have been out of the picture for so long, and gives me the oppertunity to bring them in if I want. Hell, who knows? Maybe they had so many brats they didn't even notice one missing.
But that's all beside the point. We went from a boy who finds out he's a wizard and is whisked away to a magical school where he discovers he's got a grander fate in store, to a boy who discovers he's not even human and everything he knew was a complete lie. We begin his struggle to find out just who, and what, he is and we have a quest story all set up.
That actually sounds like it'd be fun to write >.> I'll have to keep that in mind. Of course this is where I would start asking people to "Pick an animal." (See "Random Question - Random Questions")
I don't just get ideas from other people, though. Sometimes I'll hear a song that will just spark an idea, and that idea will bloom. Or maybe I'll have this really bizzare dream that will spawn a plot. My novel, "The Immorals," was actually based off of a dream I'd had just a couple nights before it started. My ideas never end the way they begin. By the time I've finished twisting and poking and tweaking the story, it rarely resembles what orginally inspired it.
So, question: What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from, and do they turn out the way you intended? Or do you get a brand new beast by the time it's down on paper (or on the computer screen)?