Use your inbuilt story antenna
“Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the one who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.” Orson Scott Card
Where do you get your story ideas from?
Do you have your eyes and ears open ready to receive story ideas, like some invisible antenna ready to receive the incoming messages?
Be on the lookout for story ideas everywhere you go, every person you see or listen to, snatches of conversation in the mall, the train, the television – if fact, wherever you are. Take a notebook with you and jot down those ideas, those words, the images you see. Record the sights, the smells, the sounds all around you and file them away for future use. Some of these jottings will never be used, others will be very useful and still others will be the gems that turn a good story into a great story.
Here are some examples:
- A white lily: I saw a white lily in the garden of a neighbour on my early morning walk. Write about what the memory of white lilies means to you about someone (friend or family) who recently died.
- A raven: A black raven flew over the house at sunset. Write a story about your cold feelings of impending disaster (death?).
- A rusty truck: Write about the joyful times you had on a favourite old truck on your uncle’s farm, and your sadness now that it is on the scrap heap.
- A singing bird: Write about the feelings you have when you hear a beautiful singing bird. What memories does it bring to mind? Who does it make you think of?
- The aroma of freshly baked bread or cake: Write about your favourite food, how it makes you feel and the memories it brings to mind.
Can you see the gem of an idea in any of these suggestions? If you can – start writing.
Make a list of twenty things you see on a walk around the block, or on your drive home from work or from the window of the train. Try to use as many of these things as you can in a story.
Remember: story ideas are all around you.
Trevor, this is a great technique I use whenever I remember to use it! Yesterday, after reading this post, I was free-associating as I drove. Here’s what happened:
An oleander bush led to (after about 25 different rabbits being chased), which led to memories of grade school bullies (don’t ask!) which led to:
A post about self-worth! Voila!
Unbelievable – it actually works?
Seriously though, I rarely have trouble coming up with writing ideas. Since beginning to blog daily in March 06 I have trained myself to “write on demand” and the discipline is starting to take effect. I must be honest and say that I have “off” days here and there when it is very difficult and it feels like I am just grinding out words with great effort. Then there are those days when the ideas and words just flow. Love it when that happens.
I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas for writing. At present am in the happy position of having far too many to use, meaning, there are not enough hours in the day to get them all done.
[…] It annoys me when writers say they don’t know what to write about. Goodness – I have so many ideas my problem is that I sometimes don’t know what to write next. Writing ideas are everywhere. I have written about that here. […]
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