How do you come up with story ideas?
Published on January 3, 2012 by lahilden | Views: 1110

This is a question writers are often asked and so I thought to tell you how I come up with my stories.  Story lines just tend to pop into my head.  Ha-ha, that’s all that has to happen.  Okay, that may sound crazy, but to fellow writers, they know exactly what I’m talking about.  For me, writing was like a switch.  I immersed myself in historical romance when I was in my early twenties, and as I read, story ideas began to come to me.  I decided I had too much imagery going on in my imagination and I decided to put pen to paper.  No, I never typed my books then, and one book usually took four legal size notepads.  After finishing my first book, which I admit, will never see the light of day, I decided to go to school and get a degree in history.  As I took notes in class, I would jot things in the corners of my notebooks about different ideas for stories.  I’ve never gone back to reread the ideas I wrote, but I still have the notebooks, so when I do run out of ideas, I know where to look.  College classes can jump start your imagination.

Sometimes I’m reading a book and my mind goes on a tangent as I envision a story I’d like to write.  I may be watching television and my mind wanders due to something I saw or a behavior I witnessed on screen.  The baby switch in one of my stories comes from a soap opera story line of babies switched at birth and I just finished a book that I view as my Cinderella story.  There are many tried and true plot lines that are well known and universal and Cinderella is one of them.

I will also use stories I hear from friends, if they are dramatic and worthy of plot exploring.  Characters also pop into my head.  I usually envision their looks first, then I create them a past, a personality, and of course, the all important obstacle for him to overcome so he can be with the love of his life.  I do the same for the heroine.

Often times, story ideas will come before I go to sleep.  Your brain can be quite active at this time if you focus toward creating a story.  If I’m truly stuck on a scene, the time before bed is often where I find clarity.  These are usually scenes that I know will have a heavy impact for the reader, whether they are dramatic, emotional, or comical.  Some of these scenes may be taken from observing life, along with human nature and behaviors.  I have had family members say and do some funny things, and some not so funny things.  If they make for good story telling, then I will use them.  Listen and observe your surroundings.  It is always good to have a notebook on your nightstand.  I’ve had to get out of bed many times to jot something down because I’ve tried that wait until morning thing, and no matter how hard I try to remember my plot, it is gone the next day.

My best piece of advice if you don’t hear the little voice in your head, is to take your favorite character and then change them until they become your own.  Give them goals and obstacles, and then create memorable scenes in which to place them.  Before you know it your story will take form and you will be on your way to completing a novel.