Coming up with a story idea is a strange process. Sometimes inspiration may slap you in the face. But most times…well, you’d be lucky for inspiration to give you so much a poke. Usually you have to coax little nuggets of inspiration from deep within the dark recesses of your brain.
What’s hiding in your mind-palace? Here are some tricks for luring out the plot bunnies.
#1: Look at Photos
I draw a lot of inspiration from photos, and they really help to get my creative juices flowing. Pinterest is an excellent source for photos. Simply search “story inspiration” (or something similar) under boards, and you will find great visual resources compiled by fellow writers.
I have created some story inspiration boards myself, which I organize by story topic. When you look at photos, ask yourself: what is the story behind it? What happened before? What will happen after?
#2: Brush up on Your History
If you love history this is a great place to find story ideas and inspiration. Choose an event or time period that interests you and read up on it. You’ll be surprised what cool facts you’ll uncover that would make an awesome story!
#3: Explore Mythology
Mythology has a wealth of ideas waiting to be harvested. I use mythological inspiration in nearly all of my stories. A great starting point for finding interesting myths from all of the world is Encyclopedia Mythica.
#4: Writing Prompts
Writing prompts can be a good way to get you in a creative mood. I’ve written a couple stories from prompts lately myself. For ideas, check out my writing prompts board on Pinterest.
#5: Listen to Music
When I’m in the midst of a creative dry spell, I love to listen to music. In my case I love epic scores–they arouse a variety of emotions and I try to picture a scene to fit with the music (I highly recommend E.S. Posthumus if you like epic music). Songs with lyrics are also great as you can imagine stories that fit the lyrics.
#6: Daydream–Ask ‘What If?’
Take some time to just brainstorm. Look at the world and ask ‘what if?’ What if Hitler had won WWII? What if we could breathe underwater? What if your boyfriend turned out to be an alien refugee?
#7: Travel or Explore
Getting out in the world exposes you to different ideas and cultures and offers a wealth of inspiration. But you don’t have to go across the globe–you can explore your hometown. What would be different or unique about it to an outsider? Become a tourist in your own city and discover adventures you can take without leaving home.
#8: Get out in Nature
Humans have a deep connection with nature, whether we realize it or not. Exploring nature can help you relax and give you inspiration for settings.
#9: Browse the Titles of Other Books
This one is kind of weird, but it’s one I really like. I’ve actually written a short story using this method. Get on Goodreads or Amazon and look for books with interesting titles. When you find one that draws you in, try to imagine a story that could go along with that title.
#10: What do You Want to Say? What are You Passionate About?
A good source for inspiration is passion. Are there any issues, topics, or interests you’re passionate about? How could they inspire a story? For example, I’m passionate about horses and my first novel heavily involved them. I’m also passionate about the issue of human trafficking and want to write a story about this topic in the future. What do you feel strongly about?
Keep Track of Your Ideas!
Most importantly, be sure you keep track of all your fantastic story ideas! Always write everything down–don’t rely on your memory to keep track of ideas! A Word doc or journal are both good options.
Personally, I prefer to have a physical copy of my ideas for two reasons: 1) I brainstorm better with a pen in hand, and 2) I don’t trust computers. I always keep hard copies of my stuff because you never know when your hard drive might decide to go kaput and send all of your hard work into the abyss of nothingness. Yeah, no bueno.
So be sure to properly care for your ideas so they don’t get lost!
How do you come up with story ideas? Comment below, I would love to hear from you!