How do you find inspiration for stories you write?
This has probably been asked before, but I cannot dig up a question through the search feature, so I ask again (feel free to link). I’ve written lots of stuff in the past, short stories and two novels, but what with, well, life (i.e. school) interfering, that’s gotten put on the back burner. I’d like to start chewing on an idea again, for when I have time, but find that I am out of inspiration. What’s your method?
I’m particularly interested in those who write fantasy, since that’s my genre—where do you start? Character? Plot? Setting?
And, on a related note, how do you not rip off other authors? I don’t mean plagarism; that’s easy to avoid. But it can be difficult, I think, to find an idea that isn’t strongly based on someone else’s work that you’re familiar with…
Just a bunch of questions—have at whatever you like!
This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.