What works for one person may not work for another. There are so many different ways to generate new story ideas. It made me wonder if one way was better than another, or maybe it doesn’t really matter. As a dear friend and colleague always says, “whatever gets you to the page”.
For me, there is no one way that I come up with new story ideas. Sometimes I see a character in a particular situation, sometimes one sentence rolls through my head and I can’t get it out of my mind. Even sometimes, I see something that is so strange that it makes me go hmmm. The problem with these scenarios is that it often takes me a long time to build a story around it.
1. What if… Playing the what if…game can be a great way to generate a new story. Maybe you see a headline in the newspaper or an entire article on a prostitute that apparently committed suicide by jumping from a sixth floor balcony of a seedy hotel in downtown Calgary. But what if…that person was actually pushed. What if…she wasn’t a prostitute? Then you ask, what was she doing there and who could have pushed her.
2. Floating Sentence…You’re just beginning to fall asleep one night and suddenly out of nowhere, the oddest sentence drifts through your mind. One that initially makes no sense but you just can’t get it out of your mind. Something like, licking frosting from between your toes. Now why on earth would someone be licking frosting from between their toes. Is it even physically possible? Maybe it’s a metaphor for something.
3. Character Situation…You see a woman laying in bed, staring at a crack in the ceiling. What is she doing there? What’s around her? Is there someone else in the room? Did someone just leave? What is she thinking?
4. Snippet of dialogue…Maybe you’re sitting in a coffee shop and you happen to overhear a snippet of conversation. Or maybe you’re eavesdropping as many writers do for just this purpose. “Dude, what were you thinking?” “I knew she had a disease but I did it anyway.”
5. Free Fall Writing…you have nothing better to do so you sit down to write. You write the first thing that comes into your head and just keep writing. Or maybe you were given a writing prompt and then let words spill onto the page. It may be drivel, it may seem like nothing at first, but maybe, just maybe, there is something in there you can work with.
6. Title…Do you come up with the title of your novel, story or poem first and then build around that?
7. End First…Do you see the end scene first then build your story to reach that end?
8. Theme…Maybe you start with an overall theme and build your story around that.
There really are endless ways to generate new ideas. How do you come up with an idea for a story?