Ghosts in the Gaslight, my new story in the Desolation anthology, was written for a theme. Ironically it wasn’t the theme of the anthology it ended up in, though that fitted too. But it’s a great example of why I like writing for themes.
Themed anthologies get advertised all the time. A quick glance at Duotrope‘s upcoming deadlines calendar reveals such wildly divergent themes as ‘barbarians of the red planet’, ‘dare’ and ‘stories of unwise lesbian desire’. Even when I don’t think I can meet the deadline, these themes often give me inspiration for what to write. They send my brain in directions I didn’t expect. They give me the boundaries and limits that are so crucial to successful creativity.
I never would have written Ghosts in the Gaslight if I hadn’t seen a call for submissions for a gaslight fantasy collection. That wasn’t where the story ended up, but it got me thinking about how to combine the Victorian era and fantasy. It even inspired the central fantasy element in the story – a spirit who’s actually visible in the gaslight.
So if you’re looking for inspiration for your next story, or for something interesting to read, take a look at themed anthologies. There’s a lot of cool stuff out there.
Picture by Steve Snodgrass via Flickr creative commons