10 Ways To Come Up With Story Ideas

The most recent blog posts mention writing sessions, writing tools, why I am a writer, etc. And as these posts go deeper into my writing process and practices, how exactly do I have anything to write.

How are my stories born? How do I get my writing ideas?

              Between today and tomorrow is the name of a short story I am working on. It is my favorite work in progress so far. It is a piece about life through a man overcoming his biggest hurdle: his perspective. 

1. Random Inspiration 

              I don’t just love the short story because I think the story is growing beautifully but also because of what inspired me to write it. The inspiration itself was beautiful to me;

              Many stories start with inspiration. And that same inspiration keeps me motivated and gives more ideas for my story and introduces different perspectives in which I can attack my story.

I reckon that most types of inspiration, if not all offer new ideas, new perspectives, and themes for a story.

              Especially, if that inspiration is a person or a thing with a history or a story of its own; I find that when I am inspired by something that practically shakes my heart there is more to learn and discover as I write a story.

Some of my stories are born from inspiration, like Between Today and Tomorrow

Finding Inspiration To Write/Create A Story

Inspiration may not just fall from the sky. But it will be something that’ll speak to you.  

              By definition, inspiration is something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or createa force or influence that inspires someone

 ( says Merriam-Webster.com/dictionary)

Inspiration happens more often than we realize.  And I believe all we have to do is take notice of it. 

              Inspiration can be the little things that strike up thought, or catch your attention, things that make you reminisce or dream.

              In the last blog post, I mentioned one of my most important writing tools: my writer’s notebook. It is a little book I use to write down book ideas and inspiration. A book that I try to take with me everywhere I go.

              I highly recommend a little book or something or somewhere to jot down book ideas, thoughts, and moments of inspiration for writers and authors.

              Personally, I prefer my writer’s notebook to be small because the smaller the notebook the more portable (for me). But sometimes a post-it note or index card does the trick as well. Whatever helps to seize the opportunity and catch those moments of inspiration.

2. Story Prompts

              Some stories are born from story prompts. Story prompts give story ideas; For example, a simple story prompt can ask a writer to…

Write a story about a girl in a new world.

              They can also focus on certain story aspects like description, setting, dialogue, character development, and so on. Story prompts can be even more specific and require a certain amount of words or paragraphs, and be limited to time.

              Story prompts are commonly used in writing competitions, for class assignments, as a creative writing icebreaker, or amongst writing groups

             Personally, I use story prompts to practice and exercise my writing skills and techniques. I am not fond of intentionally using writing prompts for my story ideas. Especially if the writing prompt is specific and from an online platform or any platform where the prompt is available to many other writers. I feel that using a specific kind of prompt that is widespread for a story idea would make my story similar to the many people who used that prompt as well.

I would much prefer my stories to be from me and unique.

However, story prompts can inspire unique stories. As that is what they are purposed to do. 

            Ironically, one of the stories I am working on came from a writing prompt I got in class. The story itself has nothing to do with the prompt given, but when I started the writing assignment based on a writing prompt, I really liked how I started the story and then got ideas on how the story could be so much better. So I changed up the main ideas, added some themes, and thought of a good storyline to develop the theme. 

              But I must omit that the same story that came from the story prompt has been rewritten from scratch numerous times before I was finally satisfied with where the story was going.

3. Based On A True Story

              Some stories are based on or inspired by real-life events. The Shining written by Stephen King was based on a true event: his stay at the Colorado Stanley Hotel.

Fiction stories based on a real-life event can be built around a true moment. For example:

              If the real-life event is Gena Drinking tea in a coffee shop after a job promotion. Maybe before that, she was living beyond her means chasing a dream but after her promotion and the thoughtful reflection tea-drinking time in the coffee shop she went bungee jumping, bought a new house, and continued to live a spontaneous life.

              In a story like this, the moment Gena has in the coffee shop is written to be true (or mostly true) but the events before and after are completely made up.

              Another way to approach a fiction piece based on a true moment(s) or event(s) is by staying to true the themes, messages, and lessons of the event but making up the details of the story.

             Whether a piece is fiction or non-fiction sometimes the most heart-tugging and interesting stories are those based on real-life events or happenings.

4. Environmental Climate: Stories that reflect what’s going on around you

              Have you ever heard of Animal Farm by George Orwell? It is a book I’ve only recently read and now love. It is a well-known classic and beautifully written story. Well, this story was written to reflect and be based on the political climate during the mid-1900s. Orwell’s experience with soviet communism brought on Animal Farm.

              Likewise, my stories and your stories can be written to reflect our environment, or simply speak on what’s going on around me or you: whether it be political,  social, financial,  or familial.

              The things that happen in your neighborhood, state, or country could be a great idea for a story. For example, I’m sure many if not all of you have heard of the Gabby Petito Case that is currently on its way to being closed as they search for Brian Laundrie. This case was shocking, sad, and followed by tons of people across the state of America. Stories like these can be great story ideas to build off of with a great message. Stories of the unheard: looked-over stories that very few people know can also make a great stories idea.

These types of stories are statement-makers and can have life-changing effects.

              And while many of these stories and happening are interesting and great story ideas. They are not story ideas for exploitation but rather to present good themes, honor the brave people or parties involved in a story, to re-tell a lesson through the story, enlighten people on the complicated but beautiful world they live in, and more.

5. A Story That Reflects The Author

              For some writers, the character in their stories mirrors the author (writer). The characters are just like them, showing different sides of themselves. Or some experiences reveal how they feel or perceive. Some events can even share their opinions on things.

              Things that I went through, a hurdle I jumped over, a character flaw I’ve beat, I lesson I learned. Something I saw, my personality, my goals, and my aspirations can all make great story ideas.

Many of these stories hit home for readers. And more so for the author.

6. Addressing An Issue

              Popularly, books that address issues boldly and specifically are often non-fiction pieces, like books written by journalists. 

               These kinds of books can specifically address problems such as homelessness, poverty, crime rate, gentrification, climate change, and so on.

An issue can also be addressed in a fiction piece. 

              Being passionate about an issue can foster a writing idea. Books like these can be structured to express the opinion of the author or they can present the issue unbiasedly to provoke thought or encourage awareness of an issue.

7. Highlighting the positive

              In contrast, books can also represent or display positive, themes and messages through a story or book.n

Seeing an act of kindness, receiving life-changing news, having a memorable experience, learning a lesson, knowing an amazing person, and so on. All these things can bring great story ideas.

8. A detailed presentation of a concept

              Story ideas can also just present a concept. If you like or wonder about a concept, you can thoroughly present the concept, in story format. 

              Using a concept as a story idea doesn’t mean that you’ll do a literal presentation similar to a class or job presentation. But with a well-developed story, a concept can be presented ( with all of its viewpoints), through types of characters, events (that entertain possible outcomes, possible solutions, and expose problems), and story structure that can demonstrate cause and effect. 

9. An homage

              Honoring someone/ having admiration towards someone (or something) can make a great story or novel. A story like this can honor someone (or something) by telling the story of their life. Similar to a bibliography. Fiction stories can also make great creative tributes.

10. Brainstorming: What If?

              The best brainstorming can come from questions and imagining possibilities. One way to brainstorm starts with foundational options and build from there picking the coolest of the endless possibilities…

Here is a way to tackle this…

              Story Archetype and/or Story Structure are great foundational starters. Choose any one of these archetypes or structures to build on top of. 

First

Let’s say I choose, for example,  the story archetype Rebirth: where most basically over the course of a story a character changes becoming a new and better person.

Then, 

              I can make up the details of the story. I’d most likely start with the main part of the story, The first, then, after. And make a great story with all the interesting details.

Some of the details can answer these brainstorming questions?

  • What if a place was being reborn instead of a person?
  • What if there are two simultaneously rebirths that happen dependently on each other?
  • What types of things make a person change?
  • Can the change be well disguised as bad?
  • What if I start the story from the end and work backward so people are invested in seeing the most desirable and revealed outcome?
  •  How do I show the different types of growth that happen?

              These brainstorming questions can get more specific and imaginative but these serve as an example of how question asking, particularly what-ifs can help create a story. Brainstorming can look like many things. As long as it brings about the best ideas for the best stories.

There Are So Many Ways To Come Up With Story Ideas

Here were the 10 mentioned…

  1. Random Inspiration
  2. Story Prompts
  3. Based On A True Story
  4. Environmental Climate: Stories That Reflect What’s Going On Around You
  5. A Story Reflecting The Author
  6. Addressing An Issue
  7. Highlighting The Positive
  8. A Detailed Presentation Of A Concept
  9. An Homage
  10. Brainstorming

               Some of these story idea creators overlap: A story based on true events can also be a story that pays homage to someone. And a story that reflects what’s happening in an environment can also highlight the positive and reflect the feelings of the author. As stories develop they can become many of these but before the story is even born, these are 10 ways to come up with story ideas.

              As mentioned I gave an example of how I used the first two to create pieces that I am currently working on. But that doesn’t mean that the others are any less useful or awesome. All of these methods can curate the most phenomenal of stories, the only thing missing is a paper and pencil to get started.

Until my next words (on here that is)
Christa

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