Storywriting: How To Get Ideas

by October

<< All Articles | Print

*Original Content Missing; Rewrite by jamescoker1226*

As authors, we all encounter times when we don't know what the Hell to write. We call this phenomenon writer's block. Fortunately, several accomplished writers have found ways to plow through the fog and stimulate their creativity. Most of the following strategies are borrowed from a <i>Writer's Digest<i> article written by an author named Brian Klems. The others are more generic ideas, gathered from various internet sources. All content has been paraphrased and reformatted for use as a CYS resource.

Reinvent a Scene

This may sound like something horribly unethical, but reinvention is not the same thing as plagiarism. In reinventing a scene, you pick a small and minor scene from one of your favorite books (poems, short stories, etc.), replace the characters with original characters, and add a twist.

Use Junk Mail as Inspiration

Every day, we, as individuals, are bombarded with advertisements and scams. Do this to the next two pieces of spam you find thrown in your face: use the first piece to determine the profession of your main character and use the second piece to define your character's love interest. For instance, if your first piece of spam is an ad from a car dealership, you make your character a used car salesman. If the second piece you find is an e-mail from a "foreign ambassador" requesting a large loan, you make the main character's lover a foreign ambassador. Then, boom, you build your story around a used car salesman who's in love with an ambassador. There is a lot you can do with that alone.

Invent a History for Someone with Whom You've Lost Touch

Most everyone has had at least one close acquaintance with whom they've lost all contact. Pick one of those old friends and write about the life they’ve been leading ever since you lost touch. What happened in his or her family life? What career path did he or she choose? Was he or she involved in something that led them to a life of crime? Let that person and the fictionalized life you created for him or her be a model for one of your characters.

Eavesdrop on a Conversation

A more accurate and less criminal-sounding name for the activity is "people-watching". Take your notepad or laptop out of the house, sit down somewhere and observe the scenery around you, tuning in to any and all conversations within earshot. Parks, restaurants, coffee shops, and bars (people are a lot more liberal with the distribution of their personal stories when they're snockered) are all good places to do this. Jot down the stories you hear but be sure to abstract them and throw in something substantial and unique, otherwise your just stealing bits of other people's lives, which is somewhat rude.

Find a Writing Prompt and Run With It

Writing prompts may not be a new and sparkly way of solving your creativity problems, but they are readily available and used by numerous writers, even professionals. Try one; it may spark your creativity. <a href="http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts">Here</a> is a list of writing prompts from <i>Writer's Digest</i>.

Timed Writing

Set a timer for five minutes and start writing. Keep writing at a steady pace; you are not allowed to stop. Many writers find that methods like this can "force" creativity. If you think that the cause of your writer's block may be stress related, then this method might not help.