Story Ideas: Tips

Here’s a post that lists 5 ways to generate story ideas. One of the tips is to read your junk mail…um, OK.

Now, I’ve been writing and editing for twenty years. In my experience, it’s pretty rare that writers actually need ways to come up with story ideas. It’s actually more of a problem to decide which of those ideas is strong enough to support a story, what format that story should take, and how best to put it on the page.

However, the same article suggests taking a small scene from one story or book and expanding it into an entirely new story. I’ve had clients do this with classic works of mythology to great success. And of course there’s the retelling of Gone with the Wind and other classic novels from different points of view that recently have become bestsellers.

So…what’s your take on story ideas? Do they come in a flood or a trickle? What helps, what hinders?


3 thoughts on “Story Ideas: Tips

  1. Joe Owens

    I have floods of story ideas. I also early this month participated in the Scribbler’s Ink Daily Prompt, which supplied a fiction prompt each day.Some have the potential to be expanded into full short stories. My biggest desire though is to gain exposure as a published writer and I feel like I am just turning cirlces or chasing my tail trying to dtermine how to continue.


  2. Damon Ferrell Marbut

    I’ve always worked well with seeing characters first. From the years I’ve written and discussed writing with others, it seems most people get stuck early on in a project because they’re trying to put together the entire story in their head first, which is more of an issue of looking at the bigger picture rather than trusting in the slow evolution of the details. It’s kind of like outlining, which I even think can really choke a narrative and limit it terribly. But many writers do it successfully, outline, but I also think that is more appropriate for genre fiction or essays. I think the best story ideas come from first recognizing the uniqueness of a character and the relevance/importance of his or her story’s message.


    1. Laine Cunningham Post author

      You mentioned something very interesting here: The attempt to put things together in the mind rather than on paper.
      I’ve discussed this with many clients as they struggle with where to begin and how to create the first draft. A story, novel, article or essay can’t be perfected if it exists only in the mind. Put it down on paper first. Then anything can be adjusted, adapted, manipulated, reshuffled, restructured and fixed. Until then, it’s futile because the mental image changes every moment!



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