Thursday, May 19, 2016

5 Fast Fixes For Brainstorming Story Ideas

One of the most common questions I get when people find out that I'm a writer (and ghostwriter) is where do my ideas come from. Some people assume that I must have a filing cabinet in my brain that I can just open at random and pull something spectacular from. Yeah, not so much.

For me story ideas come from all over the place. Characters materialize, plots constructed, and settings, well, set from a wide variety of sources. Here are five of my favorite ways to help me with my story ideas.

1. Eavesdrop. I'm not suggesting skulking in doorways or peeking through key holes, but when you are out and about you are naturally inclined to listen to other people around you. Sometimes something someone says, or a snippet of conversation, will spark a chain reaction of ideas.

Bonus: If you don't like the idea of eavesdropping, check out this  Instagram feed. (Overheard LA). There are some great story starters there.

How many things could this bear tell us?

2. Pop onto a site like and type words that relate to your story into the search bar. Such amazing images pop up.

Bonus: If you are interested in writing ghost stories, check out this flickr account. He not only has hauntingly beautiful pictures, but he gives a good history with each one.

3. Leaf through the newspaper. You would be amazed at how many stories will pop out at you.

4. If you have little girls, steal their dolls after they go to bed and act out your scenes. I don't do this as much anymore, especially now that I'm striving for high word counts every day, but it can be a real stress reliever just to play with your characters.

Barbie having a South Dakota adventure.

5. And last, but not least, challenge yourself to a photo prompt writing challenge. Take three to five random photos with your phone, and then sit down to write for half an hour. See how many of the photo prompts you can use in your story in that half an hour. (My favorite time I've done this was when we were at the children's museum. My prompts were hilarious.)

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