Real world inspiration for fantasy and horror

They say a picture says a thousand words. Which is annoying, but largely true. After all, it really depends on the picture, as some would struggle to say a sentence and others could illustrate a novel. But I digress. No great analogy stands up to close criticism. I saw some pictures today that simply blew me away and made me realise that when we’re writing genre fiction, trying to create incredible “other” worlds or horrific scenarios, it doesn’t all have to come from our imaginations. There is so much wonder in this world that we have enormous reserves of the fantastic all around us to draw on.

Below are some examples of something truly magnificent and truly terrifying. Here’s a writing exercise for you – Try to get this image convincingly conveyed in words.


(Click the images for a bigger version)

Isn’t that just incredible? That’s lightning striking above the explosion of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in south-central Chile, about 500 miles south of Santiago. According to the Mail Online, “A three-mile long fissure has opened up in the Andes as toxic gases and ash belched a cloud more than six miles high across Chile and Argentina.”

Here are a couple more pictures:

The ash cloud can be clearly seen from space and is having a massive impact in the surrounding area. Check out the apocalyptic beauty of this picture of a rose covered with volcanic ash in the Patagonian city of San Martin de los Andes, Argentina:

You want inspiration for your apocalyptic fiction? Here’s some imagery to get your brain working:

I’ve been staring in wonder at these pictures for ages this morning. This kind of activity is part of the reason that we exist on this planet, and when the Earth decides to cough this stuff up, there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. Not a fucking thing. We are specks on the face of nature and that fills me with awe.

Go to this article at the Mail Online to read more about the explosions and see more photos, including shots of the ash plume from space.

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One thought on “Real world inspiration for fantasy and horror

  1. What a fun article, and so true! We are surrounded by so many awe- and creativity-inspiring things in this amazing world. Loved those pictures you used. They’re astonishingly beautiful and terrible. Thanks for sharing!

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