And they are everywhere. In the grocery store, on vacation, at the gas station, in the classroom, even at home. Ideas for books surround us. Whether a book is a romance, fantasy, suspense, or non-fiction, all authors draw from their own life experiences (and others) to tell stories. It gives us a basis to build on””an idea to tweak and turn into something different and creative.
So when the dentist’s office and car wash isn’t working for you anymore, how do you go about finding new ideas? Here are a few things I’ve done in the past that have helped me out:
- Read a few books in a different genre. How could you change it to make it new, interesting, and somehow work with your preferred genre? I’m not talking about copying here, more like taking an idea, changing it, building on it, and making it better””making it different.
- Try reading books set in a different time period than the one you want to write. Is there an element you liked? Find a way to modernize (or antiquate) it, spinning the tale in a different way.
- Think of an interesting key element to a story, like a strange murder, a villain or hero with an original ability, an interesting profession, or a humorous scene. Then ask yourself questions about that element, build in it, and wallah, you have a basis for a story.
- Bounce ideas off people, especially other trusted authors. You never know when something will trigger an idea, scene, or even plot. If you utilize the unique personalities of others, somewhere along the way a suggestion or comment will inspire a whole new way of thinking.
- Research. If there’s something you don’t know a lot about, but what to incorporate into a story, start learning about it. I’ve known several authors who’ve come across a great plot idea or discovered an interesting subplot simply by researching and asking the right questions. With education comes new ideas””and smarter writing.
Writing may be a solitary profession, but good stories are a combined effort from a variety of people. In my opinion, that’s how a good idea can become a great idea.
What about you? Where do you look for fresh, new ideas?