‘Where do you find your ideas?” is perhaps the most asked question of authors. The second most asked questions might be ‘How do you make your ideas into stories?’ The answer to the first question is “Ideas are everywhere!” The process of capturing those ideas is an important and necessary task for a writer. So how do you capture ideas? Perhaps the easiest way is a notebook that you keep near – in your pocket or purse, and when you hear or think or dream about a possible idea, you write it down. Some writers keep a file either on their computers or a physical one that houses ideas. I use tiny notes – they litter my desk, and at some point, I gather them up and put them in an idea jar as loose notes. The point is to stockpile them somewhere other than the sieve that is your senior mind!
The ideas you collect don’t have to be fully formed. They are instead something to jog your imagination to generate a story idea – a story prompt. It could be a phrase like, ‘then she fell down the stairs’; or a title idea such as, “The Ghost of a Promise”; or perhaps a character idea, ‘shoes that talk.’ Photos, letters, and physical prompts can also be a starting point for story construction.
These collected ideas are wonderful, but when you look at them, you must consider the elements that could propel the idea into a story. One way to do that is to play the “What if” ? or the “And then” games to see how the story might develop. Looking for a theme or genre for the story might also help to solidify the idea into a story. Bouncing the story ideas off others is also a great way to build a story. Some writers look at an idea and then write a one or two sentence ‘hook’ that defines the story. Jane Austin’s beginning sentence of Pride and Prejudice Is such a hook, “It is the truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” It tells us exactly what the story is about. Let your imagination run wild as you build a story behind your idea.
The trick is to Write and Write and Write! Because the more you write, the better you become in your writing process. Good luck to you all!
I’d love to hear from you! How do you generate and store your story ideas?