How to Come Up with Fresh Story Ideas When Your Well has Been Tapped Dry
When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s works is all I can permit myself to contemplate.
I know that it seems easier to make that extra pot of coffee, read that good book, that you have had in storage for the last ten years, and suddenly decide to make the kids that Halloween costume by hand, than it can be to make yourself sit down and write. Believe me, I have been there.
Here are some brainstorming techniques to get your brain pumping again and churning out ideas.
1) If you are having trouble coming up with characters or even a story line, try developing an action scene. One good scene to kick off your book can get the rest flowing. Develop the characters and story line around that scene.
2) Come up with a problem to solve. Is your main character the class clown or the brainiest kid in school. What type of problem would your character face in his or her normal life? Write your story around the problem and a unique way of solving it.
3) For character development use common sense. Use what is in front of you.
Look at your family and friends and see if they remind you of anything. My first Shakespearean teacher reminded me of a caveman or a husky walrus because of his whiskers. Does your Uncle Arthur have whiskers, wear glasses, and walk with a little bit of a waddle? Turn him into a know it all beaver or a store clerk, at a bookstore that sells books that you can actually climb into and live out an adventure.
Does your sister have a talent for jumping rope and blowing bubbles, with purple bubble gum? Maybe the heroine for your next book could do the same.Is their a kid in your neighborhood that is always getting into trouble? Hmm, do you think that the creator of Dennis the Mennis might have known one?
You can use your family and friend’s talents and their physical characteristics to come up with tons of characters. One hint though- if you choose to make Uncle Charlie a slug or Aunt Emma a rhinoceros, keep it to yourself. They may not be thrilled with their induction into literary history.
Inspiration is all around you, waiting for you to reach out and grab for your next storyline or character. Use stories from the news, jokes that your neighbors tell you, the quirky things that your dog Buster does in the morning.
One final word - stop criticizing what you have written down. In these first stages, no one cares if you have misspelled words or if your grammar isn’t perfect. Just write. The rest will follow, after your story is done.