I’ve talked about previously with my struggles of trying to stay creative but honestly one of the hardest parts of writing for me is trying to find something to write about. By definition I am a tried and true plotter and I like to have at least the skeleton of my story (beginning, middle, end) before I sit down to flesh it out.
Getting a prompt and just writing is something I like to do for exercises or a warm up just to wake up. I like to think of prompts as my writing coffee. But starting a story from a prompt is very difficult for me. It’s hard to naturally develop a story arc and usually I just ramble (I’ve found brevity is not my strong suit).
For me, I like to have the basic skeleton of a story plotted out before I start to write it. That usually includes the rising action, the climax, the resolution, and some conflicts sprinkled along the way. Usually I tend to develop the falling action and exposition after the story is already written and I’m working on revising it.
Before and during developing my story arc, here are some places where I like to draw new ideas from.
- Pinterest: I love looking at photos and other visuals. The cliché ” a picture is worth 1,000 words” is completely true. And you get to make up those 1,000 words. When I use Pinterest I like to clump photos into a board for easy reference.
- Eavesdropping: I was at Starbucks working on a paper some time ago and the guy at the table next to me was having the most interesting phone conversation. I stopped what I was doing and wrote down almost everything he was saying on his side of the phone. Was it creepy? Definitely. Did I end up writing something out of it? Absolutely.
- Song Lyrics: I don’t know about you, but sometimes a song can just completely transport me to a whole other life. When I hear certain songs, a story plays out in my head. I love making playlists that help me work through what I’m writing and provide me while an idea for a story.
- Dreams: I feel like it’s almost a requirement for a writer to have at least one idea come from a dream. Sometimes if you can remember a dream, it’s fun to write it as a story because dreams will have surprises and twists already planned out for you.
- Current Events: I love reading the news (but for some odd reason I hate watching it). Some of my ideas come from something that I read about in an article or a story that was already told. Of course I change a lot of it, but I find news articles insanely helpful to just gather ideas.
What are some places or habits you go to when trying to come up with a new story idea? Do you follow a brainstorming process?