In our day to day lives, there are so many things that evade our senses and awareness. Many processes are occurring so slowly or are too small to see, we can never fully appreciate them. Fortunately, some nerds carry a macro lens on them at all times and do time-lapse videos whenever they sit down for extended periods of time. That guy you passed on the sidewalk the other day, with his nose pressed to his phone and his phone hovering inches above a rain-drenched ant mound, that was probably me. The girl standing not too far away, with her nose and phone similarly pressed against a tree, is my girlfriend.
(On our first hiking trip together, she spent several minutes trying to capture a close up picture of a bug before I pulled the macro lens from my wallet and gave it to her. Though she would probably deny it, I think that’s when she truly fell for me.)
The small (microscopic or near microscopic) world around us, is as beautiful as it is disturbing, the perfect catalyst for inspiration. These micro- landscapes can be the basis of an alien world, or the backyard of a person shrunken to the size of an ant. The more detail in which you describe these settings, the more fascinating they become and the more realistic and plausible it reads.
Similarly, processes that take place faster or slower than we can perceive are perfect for writing. A realistic description of the clouds billowing past, or the expansion of gases in the moments after a trigger is pulled, will more believably convey the passage of time or heighten the suspense.
In some cases, these observations can inspire entire stories. In the time it took to write this post, I have begun to outline a story about a man that gets pulled into another dimension (the same one as gravity) when he activates a new “gravity drive” on his spaceship for the first time. Because the dimension in which the graviton is believed to disappear into is very small, perhaps all he sees is a tiny window into the real world. Because it is the dimension of gravity, time passes slower there, so everything he sees through the tiny window is proceeding rapidly. From his pin-point perspective, flowers flicker open and closed, the sun flares at one horizon and darts across the sky. He can pilot near and through matter, viewing it up close and in alarming detail, but he can only interact with it in small ways. In wake of this accident, he has to figure out how to make contact with the 3 dimensions he left before all the people he knows and loves have died from old age.
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it can also inspire fiction. So take a moment and examine the world around you. If you aren’t impressed or inspired, then perhaps you should lean a little closer.