Have you ever been stuck for a story idea? It happens to all of us.
But it doesn’t have to. Story ideas are literally all around us.
Sometimes we just can’t see them. But they really are just about anywhere you look.
My Favorite Sources of Story Ideas
I have three ways I come up with stories.
- Use a painful experience as a starting point
Anything painful can work here. Change what led up to it, change how it turned out, make yourself the hero (or the villain).
- Use an odd news story and try to imagine what led up to it
I’m thinking about old ladies with 73 cats and a boa constrictor. Something had to happen in their lives to get them to that point.
- Take a random phrase or image and use it as a prompt to just start writing
This is giving the muse the most freedom. I’ve stunned myself with what come one phrase will lead to.
Occasionally, these sources fail me. So, I turn to my good friend the internet for help.
Three Resources to Help Dream Up Great Story Ideas
On my last search, I found these great resources.
There’s a Story Everywhere
This little list of 21 ways to find story ideas is a gem. It’s geared for journalists, but lots of tips that other writers can use.
I especially appreciated #20.
Short Story Ideas
A little more searching turned up this list of 72 ideas. Each one is better than the last.
The beauty of this list is each idea can be tweaked in multiple ways. Some of the ideas in the humor section could easily morph into dystopian fantasy or horror.
Ethically Stealing Story Ideas
Then I found this fabulous post over at The Write Practice.
It’s widely known that famous writers borrow ideas from each other all the time. CS Lewis, for example, admitted to being heavily influenced by George MacDonald. If you read both of their works, you can see traces of MacDonald in Lewis’ Narnia books.
No one, of course, is promoting plagiarism. What is certainly ethical is borrowing an idea and giving it your own twist and spin.
Check out the post for some ways to ethically borrow story ideas. All kinds of interesting story possibilities came to mind as I read it. Who knows, some of them may end up as the basis of a novel someday.
What are some of your favorite ways to come up with story ideas?