This week, I was reading over some of my past blog posts, and I realized that I write many posts as if you already have a story idea in mind. However, the truth is, many writers stare at a blank page or screen for hours trying to come up with the perfect story idea. Rest assured, it is effortless to come up with an original and satisfying story idea, and it involves very little frustration on your part.
Below, I list five ways that will help you come up with multiple story ideas. By utilizing these five tips, you may find yourself coming up with more story ideas than you can handle! Let's dive in.
Tip One: Use Writing Prompts
With a quick Internet search or a scroll through Pinterest, you can find various writing prompts. (You can check out my Pinterest writing prompts board here.) These are helpful in that its almost like you're allowing someone to start the story for you. Usually, the prompt may be a piece of dialogue or the beginning of a sentence. The goal is for you to take that snippet, gain inspiration, and run with it, therefore crafting the perfect story idea.
Tip Two: Gain Inspiration From Your Life
I know you're a writer, but what do you do when you're not writing? What's your day job? Do you work in an office, or do you drive a lot? Are you a stay-at-home mom? Do you work with computers or in the nursing field? Take inspiration from your world. Let your imagination run wild. What if a virus resulted in a cyber-terrorist attack? What if someone was going around killing the elderly in various nursing homes with an untraceable drug? What if someone came into the office for treatment, but disappeared when the cops came running in and announced that he was a fugitive? What if you're home alone while your children are sleeping upstairs and someone breaks in the house? What if you look out your window and observe a robbery happening next door. As you turn to call the cops, you make eye contact with the robber, and now he's headed to your house? Story ideas are all around you; all it takes is a little bit of imagination to tap into them.
Tip Three: Eavesdrop
I do this all the time and makes for great story ideas. Get out and go to a coffee shop, the mall, the grocery store, or even a park. Sit down, put some headphones in, or look at a book, but place close attention to the snippets of conversations going on around you. You don't have to sit and observe for a long time, but if you just spend ten to fifteen minutes, you might overhear a conversation that sparks an idea for your next book. Of course, be sure to tweak the conversations you hear and make them your own.
Tip Four: What If...
I do this all the time to get a great story idea. Sometimes I come across a scene in a book, or a news article, or a tweet and I ask myself: What if? Often the most outlandish idea can be the best one. For example:
What if one day a year during a 12-hour period all criminal activity, including murder, is legal? - The Purge
What if each year 12 girls and 12 boys come together to fight to the death on live television? - The Hunger Games
What if the world changes to a society where upon reaching a certain age you are put into a faction based on human virtues, but you realize you don't fit into any one faction and are considered a threat by the government? - Divergent
All of these ideas may seem weird or outlandish at first, but they have turned into multi-million dollar story ideas. All because someone asked what if.
Tip Five: Draw Inspiration from Reading
If you're a writer, chances are you love to read. Usually, the two go hand in hand and being a lover of books can work in your favor. There are so many books out there that are retellings of other books, movies, myths, or legends. Some authors even write sequels for books previously published by authors who may have died and are either unable to or chose not to continue the characters' story. Maybe you're drawn to a particular world you've read about or intrigued by a particular character. Draw upon these things, make tweaks to the plot, change some characters or add new ones, and let your imagination run wild.
Do you have any other tips for coming up with story ideas? Be sure to share them in the comments below!