Here are nine ways to help you think of an idea for your next story.
1.) Observe other people – Go to the mall or the park and people watch. You can pretend to make up stories for the people you see, or perhaps you will overhear a conversation that would be perfect as part of a story.
2.) Sit down and brainstorm – Often the best ideas come from the act of writing itself. Sit at the computer or even with just a pad of paper and let your creativity flow and remember to not pause to criticize what you have written down.
3.) Let your mind wander – This is a variation of brainstorming where while doing a chore like washing the dishes or driving to the store, you simply let your mind wander. Being away from the computer and the stress of trying to come up with ideas might just help you generate ideas or nurture the story line you are considering.
4.) Start with plot – Decide what you want to write about such as a murder, a romance or even vampires and build from there. Or perhaps you can imagine a great fantasy world. Use those thoughts as your building blocks for your story.
5.) Start with character – Imagine an interesting character and then decide what type of adventure you can thrust them into. What type of challenge would be interesting and provide good conflict?
6.) Write what you know – If you are good at swimming or knitting, start with what you know. The main character may have those same interests or perhaps those activities start the adventure. (A woman is murdered with her own knitting needle perhaps?)
7.) Develop an action scene – If you are having trouble coming up with characters or even a story line, try developing an action scene. One good scene to kick off your book can get the rest flowing. Develop the characters and story line around that scene.
8.) Come up with a problem to solve. Is your main character the class clown or the brainiest kid in school? What type of problem would your character face in his or her normal life? Write your story around the problem and a unique way of solving it.
9.) Random drawing of ideas – Pull ideas for setting, plot, and characters from the newspaper, a magazine or even other books. Write each one down on a separate card. Pick one card from each pile at random and then try to create a story from them. While this may not be the story to publish, it is a great exercise to get you thinking.
Hopefully, these suggestions can help you think of your next storyline. The key is to be ready when inspiration strikes. Ideas for stories, dialogue, characters, and plot development can hit anytime, and it’s amazing how quickly they can be forgotten. The easiest solution is to carry a pad and pen with you. Don’t forget to put one on the bedside table in case you wake from a dream with some great ideas.
Remember that the creation of a solid story idea is not an event but rather a process. It takes a lot to take a simple story idea like the one generated with these ideas and turn it into a full, rich story. But every story must start somewhere.
This is the first in a three-part series. Next week: making sure your story idea is solid enough to become a novel.