Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night after a dream but can never seem to remember it in the morning? It happens all the time. Thankfully story ideas don’t only come to us in our dreams because if they did I’d probably never remember any of them. So if not from our dreams then where do story ideas come from anyways?
Story Ideas Can Come From Anywhere
Every day you might come across dozens of story ideas without even actually realizing it. The unfortunate part about this is that we seldom recognize them. I used to worry that I would run out of story ideas one day. Now I realize that as long as I’m living my life there will always be new ideas to discover. Your job as a writer and storyteller is to be aware of this and most importantly, note them down as you come across them!
I know there are some writers out there who say that they don’t write ideas down until the ideas re-surface multiple times. That way they know the idea is worth it. I prefer to write down ideas as they come, if I happen to write down the same idea multiple times all the better. My memory isn’t always the best so if I don’t write things down they tend to get lost.
So where do story ideas come from? Books, TV, movies, comics, fashion, anime, manga, art, the list can go on and on but these are all places where ideas lie in waiting. Just remember to keep your mind open and note down an idea as it comes to you. A lot of my ideas come from reading or watching something and thinking “I didn’t really like how that happened, what if…?” Asking” what if” is a great way to prompt yourself with an idea and can lead you to many other ideas as well.
Everyday Life Provides Endless Opportunites
The conversation you had with your co-worker about their awful date is a story idea. Someone dropping their lunch on the kitchen floor? Story idea. That person who almost got run over by the cab on your way to work? Story idea. What I’m trying to say is there are always ideas around in everyday life if you keep your mind open to them. I always have a notepad on me or I use my phone to write down things that happen. They often don’t lead to anything, but a bunch of small ideas might just be the beginning of a larger more epic one.
Organizing Your Ideas
I like having a place where I keep all my ideas so I have a Scrivener document where I congregate all my ideas from all my notepads into one place. In this master idea document I sort out my ideas into broad categories such as character ideas, what if’s, setting ideas, stories I’d write differently, questions, etc. The master document categories also double as prompts that I keep in the back of my head so that when I come across something that fits into a category I’ll remember to jot it down. Here’s a snapshot of my Master Idea Document in Scrivener:
I’ve only recently started putting all my ideas in one place but I expect this master document to grow rapidly. My favorite beginning points are usually character ideas and what if’s. Taken alone any one idea is usually never enough to make a story. That brings me to my last point about ideas.
Ideas Are Just The Beginning
Alone ideas are just that. They will never become anything unless you do something with them. A single idea is usually never enough to write a story but the more you write your ideas the more they grow. That idea plants a seed of imagination in your mind, into your subconscious. Don’t rush it, let it marinate and multiply. When it’s ready, the next step will be to start combining ideas and then choosing one to further develop. That however is a topic for another day.Think of ideas as seeds for planting. Plant the seed of imagination in your mind, into your subconscious. Don't rush it, let it marinate and grow into something amazing down the road.Click To Tweet
Ideas are all around us. As long as you keep on living and experiencing life, you’ll never run out of ideas for stories to tell. The only thing you have to do is be open to them, let them in, and record them for later. Plant the seeds, water them and one day they’ll grow into something amazing.
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Where do you find your ideas come from? Do you write them down or have your own methods for generating and remembering story ideas? I love hearing and talking about writing processes so do let me know in the comments below!
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Great post! I really like how you are using the organization to bring structure to your (and any of us) random ideas and experiences.
Since you asked for me I get a photo idea for my blog or a short story from just about anything, like you. Sometimes it is something I see or somewhere I have been. I usually let stuff swim around in my head for a day or so, then if I think the idea has any merit, I start a blog post, a draft.
But I like your ideas for being more systematic. Great ideas and great post. Thanks! 😊
What can I say I like to organize things 😄 I like to think it helps me, if anything just to help make a habit of things. Photos are great sources for ideas. You have some great ones btw! Thanks for the feedback and for sharing Tim!
You are very welcome. And thanks for the compliments. You have a wonderful day, and happy blogging!
I agree with you – you should write down ideas as they come to you. Having a dedicated idea notebook would help. I scribble things on pieces of paper and then they disappear. But I also feel like not every idea should be used right there and then. For example with my blogging – I have a draft of ideas which I then delete as I go because “I don’t feel like writing about that anymore.” Maybe in the future… who knows…
Ideas ARE everywhere!
Sam ‘Goldie’ Kirk recently posted…NROP: Traveling in times of a pandemic + BONUS! A personal tale.
Totally get what you say about not using evey idea. I’m the same with blog posts, some will probably never see the light of day lol. Ideas are everywhere. Thanks Sam!
I am not quite as organized as you are, Paolo! I rarely write fiction but it has to inspired by real life. Would love to write sci-fi.
Real life is a great source of inspiration for sure. Hope you get to write some sci Fi!
Maybe one day…