5 ways to get story ideas

How to come up with story ideas
It occurred to me yesterday, as I sat in a queue on the M32 into Bristol at rush hour, that story ideas can come at the most inappropriate of moments. It isn’t the first time I’ve thought this, but it’s the first time I’ve remembered it long enough to write about it, and because I was stuck in traffic, I had long enough to think of all the other annoying places where ideas come to me. Which, naturally, led to me thinking about all of the places and ways of generating ideas. So here is a list of just five ways to come up with ideas for fiction, just in case you ever get stuck.

1. When you’re doing something menial – yes, this includes being stuck in a traffic jam, or in the shower, I really hate that because you can’t write anything down, the paper will get wet. Last weeks Mike and Molly saw creatively blocked Molly find her muse again after taking on a job as a fork lift driver. In Big Bang Theory, Sheldon figured out his scientific problem by ‘working’ at the Cheesecake Factory. Work that requires no thought allows the creative part of your mind to be free (although this doesn’t always work. Too much time in a boring job can kill your creativeness).

2. When watching a favourite TV programme or film – there’s nothing quite like immersing yourself in someone else’s world to get the creative juices flowing. Books can also be added to this list, although they don’t seem to work for me. I’m too busy working out how they wrote it.

3. People watch – it’s the classic image of a writer; someone sat at a cafe window with their notebook or laptop and their cup of coffee, watching the world go by. It doesn’t have to be cafe though, anywhere you can see people will do. Even better if you can catch bits of their conversation.

4. Dreams – I don’t know about you but I have vivid dreams. Sometimes creepy, sometimes disturbing, sometimes amazing, often with chases, spies, explosions and a great love interest.

5. Reading news articles – obviously, as a fantasy and sci-fi writer, the stranger the better! The internet is awash with these.

There are loads of ways of coming up with ideas, what are your favourites? What works for you? Tell us about them in the comments below.

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4 responses to “5 ways to get story ideas

  1. I’m doing the ‘people watch while drinking coffee’ thing right now! And yes, I am eavesdropping on people’s conversations… 😉 I often get ideas when I’m out and about driving. I’m lucky in that there’s lots of great scenery around me, so that’s quite inspirational. 🙂

    • I love a good eavesdrop! Especially when you mishear things!
      Driving is a perfect job for inspiration I think. Certainly, the ideas generator part of my brain shuts down when I go into the office.

  2. I find ideas pop into my head in the morning when either in or just out of the shower. I love it when an idea taps me on the shoulder, fully formed, and waits for me to write it down! I also get lots of ideas when listening to audiobooks while driving. Unfortunately they are not always patient and head off to someone else who will be more attentive to their needs.

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