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Guest Post by Bella Osborne – Inspiration

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“Where do you get your inspiration from for your characters?”

It’s a great question and one I am now being frequently asked. So far my answers have been stunning both literally and literarily:

– Um, I’m not sure really
– The characters just appeared
– It’s all in my head and I just write it down

Whilst all of the above responses are true and genuine they are not exactly scintillating. I thought perhaps I should give this particular question a little more thought and come up with a decent response, after all I’m meant to be a writer!  I feel that I now have a debt to others. Just 3 months after my book was published I was being asked to provide quotes for other debut novelists – all of a sudden I was the one with the experience (a terrifying thought!) If I were to have asked a published author this question I would have wanted a reply I could do something with not something nondescript – see above bullet points.  After a cup of tea and some custard creams (purely to fuel the inspiration process you understand) I have come up with the following improved response:

My inspiration is a catalogue of minutiae. It’s everything I hear, see and remember all moulded together into someone new.

Let me explain…
Listening – I am constantly listening (my husband would contradict this but it’s true, although I’m not always listening to him) because I am listening out for that small nugget of something that will trigger a thought or an idea. I earwig on people’s conversations wherever I am, be that public toilets, supermarkets, queues for anything (one of the many joys of being British), school pick up or in coffee shops. It doesn’t matter where I am, or what I am meant to be doing, my ears are always on high alert. I filter out the mundane and listen out for the interesting. It may be a turn of phrase, the tone of voice, a comedy line, a question or a revelation but just now and then I strike upon something that is precious and I write it down and keep it tucked away until I need it.

Memories – Never underestimate the value of thinking time. In a busy world there is very little time to sit and do nothing so I make use of time in the car, running or waiting in queues to think. There’s nothing intellectual going on in my head sometimes it’s a bit like listening to ‘on hold’ music but other times it’s a riot of thoughts and memories. They bounce about and each one triggers something else and up from the deepest darkest recesses of my custard cream addled mind come long lost pictures of my past. Sometimes there is something there that I grab hold of and write it down and keep it tucked away until I need it.

Observing – Kind of like listening for the eyes. It’s tricky though because you can’t just sit and stare at people. Partly because in most cultures this is considered rude but also because us humans have a strange sixth sense and if you stare at someone long enough I guarantee they will turn round and stare right back at you. You then have to go into amateur dramatics mode and start pretending that you were looking at something near to them but not actually at them or that you were very busy on your phone and had merely glanced up for a second and in fact they are staring at you – how rude! Watching the world around us is a huge inspiration when you start to do a little analysis and a bit of questioning. I observe people and their mannerisms, for example how they walk – the speed, their gait, the way their whole body moves or doesn’t in some cases like an Irish dancer but without the smile and high kicks, what they’re doing with their hands, their head, their eyes whilst they walk. Then I ask myself why do they walk like that? Where are they going? What does their walk imply? It’s not just the walk, every movement or gesture is worthy of study, analysis and interpretation.

My favourite is facial expressions. People on phones are particularly good for this, especially if you forget they have a phone and just look at their face – it’s hysterical. I often provide my own voiceover (out of earshot of course) which my child finds highly entertaining. I know this is silly but it does make your mind improvise and sends you off in all sorts of directions and sometimes creates a story in itself. If something strikes me as particularly good I write it down and keep it tucked away until I need it.

Dreaming – This is a real hit and miss one but sometimes I do genuinely have dreams that provide me with inspiration. Usually I wake up and think ‘what on earth was that all about?’ but there might be something in it that I can use so I write it down and keep it tucked away until I need it.

Characters – I can’t lie, my characters do tend to just pop into my head. I know that’s not very helpful but it’s the truth. When they pitch up they have varying degrees of completeness. Sometimes it’s just a face or an attitude so the rest of the character needs to be built up. It’s a bit like playing with play dough but not as messy and slightly less colourful and without the stomach ache afterwards (oh come on admit it we’ve all eaten a bit just to see what it’s like. No? Just me then.)  This is where all the other stuff (technical term) comes into play. All the little nuggets that I have noted down; the whispered conversations, the unusual phrases, the tones of voice, the walks, the facial expressions this is where they all come together – they are my play dough. I stick bits to my characters and I see what works and what doesn’t.

So “Where do you get your inspiration from for your characters?”
My inspiration is a catalogue of minutiae. It’s everything I hear, see and remember all moulded together into someone new.

I think that answer sounds a lot better and probably deserves another custard cream!

About the Author:

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Bella Osborne


Bella has been jotting down stories as far back as she can remember. Her first story, written when she was nine, was about a thief who stole the crown jewels and this sadly remains unpublished. However, undeterred, she continued to write stories for adults and ‘It Started At Sunset Cottage’ is her debut novel.

She likes to find the humour in the darker moments of life and weaves these into her stories.  Bella believes that writing your own story really is the best fun ever, closely followed by talking, eating chocolate, drinking fizz and planning holidays.

She lives in The Midlands with her lovely husband and wonderful daughter, who thankfully, both accept her as she is (with mad morning hair and a penchant for skipping).

For more about Bella, visit her website at or follow her on Twitter – @osborne_bella

Her Book-

It Started at Sunset Cottage


Kate Marshall is slowly getting her life back on track after losing her fiancé. As an author, she has been able to hide herself away from the world and its expectations – but now one of her books has been optioned for a film and Hollywood suddenly comes knocking on her door.

When Kate is given the opportunity to stay at a beautiful country retreat in the Cotswolds and concentrate on the screenplay, it’s an offer she can’t refuse.  Though the last thing Kate expects is for Timothy Calder, A-list actor and leading man in the movie adaptation of her book, to turn up on her doorstep, hoping to lie low after his latest tabloid scandal.

After a rocky start, they find they have a few things in common: a liking for Lady Grey tea, walnut whips and bad ‘knock knock’ jokes. Actually, the bad jokes are just Tim.

As the sun begins to set on Sunset Cottage, an unlikely friendship begins to blossom…

Buy the Book:


Thank you, Bella for posting on Hello…Chick Lit.  Your post was so funny and so relatable! Your book looks and sounds fabulous!


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