Artwork for podcast Writing Pursuits
46: Twelve Great Ways to Find Story Ideas
Episode 4631st August 2022 • Writing Pursuits • Kathrese McKee
00:00:00 00:12:48

Share Episode

Shownotes

In this episode of Writing Pursuits, I will discuss twelve ways to find story ideas.

Question of the week: What is your favorite method of brainstorming new story ideas?

Get your free copy of the First Chapter Rubric.

Links:

WritingPursuits.com

Instagram: @WritingPursuitsPodcast

Three Story Method Certified Editor

KathreseMcKee.com

Mailerlite (affiliate link)

YourFirstChapter.com

Mentioned in this episode:

Get Your First Chapter Rubric at FirstChapterRubric.com

Is your first chapter ready? Be confident! What if you had a resource to help you figure out the strengths and weaknesses of your first chapter? An objective, informative rubric to go by? If your first chapter doesn’t work, then you have probably lost a customer for life. Or a chance to sign an agent or get a publishing contract. Don't leave things to chance. This rubric will help you identify the problem areas in your first chapter and figure out how to fix them. Be ready for queries. Be ready for readers. Get the results you dream about. Go to FirstChapterRubric.com.

Transcripts

Kathrese McKee:

As a fellow author, hope you have a notebook

Kathrese McKee:

of ideas in your backpack or desk drawer. This way when you

Kathrese McKee:

run dry, you can restart your writing process. In this episode

Kathrese McKee:

of writing pursuits. I will discuss 12 ways to find story

Kathrese McKee:

ideas. Welcome to the writing pursuits podcast where authors

Kathrese McKee:

like you discuss writing craft, author, life and book marketing

Kathrese McKee:

strategies. I'm your host Kathrese. McKee. I own writing

Kathrese McKee:

pursuits and write and produce the weekly newsletter writing

Kathrese McKee:

pursuits tips for authors. In addition, I am a speculative

Kathrese McKee:

fiction author writing pursuits is for authors who drink too

Kathrese McKee:

much coffee, endure judgemental looks from their furry riding

Kathrese McKee:

companions and struggle for words. If you are a writer

Kathrese McKee:

seeking encouragement, information and inspiration,

Kathrese McKee:

this podcast is for you. Let's get to it. Hey, writing pursuits

Kathrese McKee:

authors. Welcome back to the podcast. Those of you who are

Kathrese McKee:

new, I want to extend a special welcome my name is threesome key

Kathrese McKee:

and I'm glad you're here. Please leave a comment the star rating

Kathrese McKee:

and follow the show to help others find writing pursuits.

Kathrese McKee:

One of the most dreaded parts of writing a new story is facing a

Kathrese McKee:

blank screen or piece of paper. You stare at it and nothing

Kathrese McKee:

happens except crickets. nurture the writing habit by generating

Kathrese McKee:

story ideas. If you haven't started your idea notebook, pick

Kathrese McKee:

up a new spiral, or find a digital app on your smartphone

Kathrese McKee:

where you can capture ideas no matter where you are. story

Kathrese McKee:

ideas are easily derived and in limitless supply. If you are

Kathrese McKee:

determined to be an author and I and I know you are because

Kathrese McKee:

you're listening to writing pursuits, then do not make the

Kathrese McKee:

lack of ideas your excuse for not writing. Here are some quick

Kathrese McKee:

methods for filling your story idea notebook. One, read books,

Kathrese McKee:

read in your genre and read in your sub genre to learn reader

Kathrese McKee:

expectations, and learn the tropes. Yes, you have permission

Kathrese McKee:

to use tropes. You know, this describes the vast majority of

Kathrese McKee:

romance is on the market boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy

Kathrese McKee:

winds girl back, or some variation on that theme. It's

Kathrese McKee:

not the idea that's important so much as what the writer does

Kathrese McKee:

with the idea. Let's try a more specific plot idea a man travels

Kathrese McKee:

back in time to change x event so that y catastrophe will not

Kathrese McKee:

happen in the future. This has been done so many times. Again,

Kathrese McKee:

it isn't the idea but the execution that counts. Each

Kathrese McKee:

author tells a story in their own way. It's okay to reuse

Kathrese McKee:

ideas. Mark Twain said this in his autobiography. There is no

Kathrese McKee:

such thing as a new idea it is impossible. We simply take a lot

Kathrese McKee:

of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We

Kathrese McKee:

give them a turn, and they make new and curious combinations. We

Kathrese McKee:

keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely. But

Kathrese McKee:

they are the same old pieces of colored glass that had been in

Kathrese McKee:

use through all the ages. So that was number one. Read books

Kathrese McKee:

and learn the tropes. Number two read the newspaper you can skip

Kathrese McKee:

the murders if you're not a who done it author. But there are

Kathrese McKee:

plenty of other ideas to tear from the headlines. You can find

Kathrese McKee:

your next book idea by asking yourself what if questions about

Kathrese McKee:

current events? What if your newspaper runs an article about

Kathrese McKee:

computer chips commonly in use that leave personal data up for

Kathrese McKee:

grabs due to security weakness? Or that sounds real? Doesn't it?

Kathrese McKee:

Sounds actually plausible? story idea. You don't even have to

Kathrese McKee:

write a high tech story. What if the so called flaw was in the

Kathrese McKee:

human brain? What if there were certain people who could grab

Kathrese McKee:

your thoughts? Every thought you ever had just by being near you?

Kathrese McKee:

A similar story mind writer by Mike Lynch and Lisa Godfreys was

Kathrese McKee:

published in 2016. The main character in their story has the

Kathrese McKee:

ability to transfer a person's thoughts, memories and

Kathrese McKee:

personality into a clone and in their world. This is how those

Kathrese McKee:

in power stay in power. What a nightmare. Number three watch

Kathrese McKee:

news programs YouTube videos and documentaries. In other words,

Kathrese McKee:

watch a lot of nonfiction educational videos. My My kids

Kathrese McKee:

are sick of me doing that. I I watched nonfiction stuff all the

Kathrese McKee:

time. I love documentaries. What can I say? Always be learning

Kathrese McKee:

new things and looking for inspiration make it a regular

Kathrese McKee:

exercise to write an idea and riff on it by improvising

Kathrese McKee:

variations for listen to classical music for inspiration.

Kathrese McKee:

This is where Disney's famous movies Fantasia and Fantasia

Kathrese McKee:

2000 were developed. Artists listened to classical selections

Kathrese McKee:

and let their minds wander. That's where the Sorcerer's

Kathrese McKee:

Apprentice came from. And who can forget Night on Bald

Kathrese McKee:

Mountain images and stories snippets will develop of their

Kathrese McKee:

own volition. As you listen, take the time to let the images

Kathrese McKee:

form in your mind as you sink into a dream state. Then write

Kathrese McKee:

out what you see. Also, watch music videos by your favorite

Kathrese McKee:

artists. The emotions you feel as you watch are what you are

Kathrese McKee:

trying to capture. Pay attention to your emotions, and take the

Kathrese McKee:

time to figure out how to write them down. Number five, ask

Kathrese McKee:

yourself questions about what you see in real life. As you

Kathrese McKee:

drive or walk somewhere, ask yourself how something came to

Kathrese McKee:

be the way it is. But don't research the facts unless you

Kathrese McKee:

write historical fiction. Speculate instead, okay, this is

Kathrese McKee:

about imagination. Haven't you ever wondered how someone came

Kathrese McKee:

to be where they are? In doing what they are doing? Make up a

Kathrese McKee:

backstory for a person, a place or an object? How did that come

Kathrese McKee:

to be? How did that odd group of people get together? Why are

Kathrese McKee:

they friends? Why does a person act that way? Who does she go

Kathrese McKee:

home to every night? What famous person does he know? And how?

Kathrese McKee:

Where is that family traveling? What momentous event will happen

Kathrese McKee:

when they get there? Will they return? Why? Or why not? Let

Kathrese McKee:

your imagination take over. Write down every idea and create

Kathrese McKee:

variations six binge television series. When you reach the end

Kathrese McKee:

of each episode, ask yourself what will happen next? Write

Kathrese McKee:

some fanfiction about how you hope the story will go. There.

Kathrese McKee:

You have a story idea. Go and make it your own seventh, start

Kathrese McKee:

with unlikely opposites. Try the exercise of thinking about a

Kathrese McKee:

certain kind of person and pair that person with an unlikely

Kathrese McKee:

opposite outcome. So a billionaire puts his money in a

Kathrese McKee:

trust and chooses to live on the streets fighting for the

Kathrese McKee:

underdog. If only Batman was Cisco, a former prisoner saves a

Kathrese McKee:

world that enslaved him. A freedom fighter falls in love

Kathrese McKee:

with an enemy soldier. You get the idea. Start with unlikely

Kathrese McKee:

opposites. Number eight use writing prompts. I love this

Kathrese McKee:

idea. This is such a good discipline to get into. There

Kathrese McKee:

are 1000s of writing prompts online and in print. a writing

Kathrese McKee:

prompt can be as simple as one word like yellow, or it can be a

Kathrese McKee:

sentence like the rats were in the cheese again. Sometimes

Kathrese McKee:

prompts or lines of dialogue. You shouldn't have come back.

Kathrese McKee:

The calling happens tonight. We are out of ammunition. I used to

Kathrese McKee:

love him. But listen for snatches of conversation in real

Kathrese McKee:

life and write them down. Then use those as writing prompts a

Kathrese McKee:

writing prompt might be a complete scenario, like a group

Kathrese McKee:

of strangers makes a dangerous trip together. hostile forces

Kathrese McKee:

tried to kill them, and their only shot at survival is to

Kathrese McKee:

learn to work together. This is the kernel for John Ford's movie

Kathrese McKee:

stagecoach. But the same kernel could as easily be about a sea

Kathrese McKee:

voyage, a journey to the center of the earth or a mission to

Kathrese McKee:

Mars. It's not the idea. It's the execution scheduled time to

Kathrese McKee:

practice responding to writing prompts because writing leads to

Kathrese McKee:

more ideas. Nine, pay attention to your dreams. Dreams are

Kathrese McKee:

uncensored fragments from the creative side of your brain.

Kathrese McKee:

Most of mine are too silly dimension. But occasionally, I

Kathrese McKee:

have an idea that so crazy, it just might work. Dreams can be a

Kathrese McKee:

source of ideas.

Kathrese McKee:

I rarely wait long enough to write mine down honestly. But I

Kathrese McKee:

know of authors who have turned their ideas into full blown

Kathrese McKee:

novels 10 Participate in role playing games, Tracy Hickman and

Kathrese McKee:

Margaret Weis and a group of associates used to play Dungeons

Kathrese McKee:

and Dragons together, and their games inspired a series of

Kathrese McKee:

novels in the dragon Lance universe. In role playing,

Kathrese McKee:

participants practice the skill of taking on a character's

Kathrese McKee:

persona and facing challenges with a group of players. world

Kathrese McKee:

building skills are critically important in these games, and

Kathrese McKee:

playing these games can spark story ideas. Hickman and Weiss

Kathrese McKee:

developed a long timeline, and mapped geography for their

Kathrese McKee:

novels, and several other authors have created side

Kathrese McKee:

stories in the same universe. Don't overlook role playing

Kathrese McKee:

games they're a rich resource 11 Use the process of writing to

Kathrese McKee:

generate ideas. The act of writing itself can trigger

Kathrese McKee:

ideas. Writing is a process after also start with a nugget

Kathrese McKee:

or kernel of an idea and ask questions. Write about anything

Kathrese McKee:

that pops into your head. Brainstorm, hypothesize,

Kathrese McKee:

visualize, follow the rabbit trails. beginning writers often

Kathrese McKee:

have the mistaken idea that a story arrives fully formed. But

Kathrese McKee:

in reality of story idea usually develops with work. writers

Kathrese McKee:

write keep writing about one idea and other ideas will form,

Kathrese McKee:

you will not run out of ideas. Writing for the sake of writing

Kathrese McKee:

is a discipline worth pursuing. I recommend keeping a notebook

Kathrese McKee:

and writing your ideas by hand. That's my preferred method. And

Kathrese McKee:

then when I know I have a really great idea, I make sure I

Kathrese McKee:

captured on my computer and it gets backed up and all that. Be

Kathrese McKee:

messy doodle make diagrams. writing on paper with pen uses

Kathrese McKee:

both sides of your brain. But if you have trouble with

Kathrese McKee:

handwriting, as does my dysgraphic daughter, then do the

Kathrese McKee:

same exercises on your device of choice. 12. Right. You knew I

Kathrese McKee:

was going to say that practice generating new story ideas on a

Kathrese McKee:

regular basis perhaps once a week. To gain confidence, you

Kathrese McKee:

will build a huge backlog of usable plot ideas. Whenever you

Kathrese McKee:

feel that you are running on empty. Use the methods we have

Kathrese McKee:

discussed. prime the pump and get your writing to flow again,

Kathrese McKee:

go back to your idea notebook and choose something to write

Kathrese McKee:

about. story ideas are everywhere, but they are easily

Kathrese McKee:

forgotten. Capture them in your notebook or digital app at the

Kathrese McKee:

earliest opportunity. Take a picture if possible to remind

Kathrese McKee:

you that oh so fleeting thought because most often that that

Kathrese McKee:

precious Golden Nugget will not return once it is forgotten. The

Kathrese McKee:

question of the week is what is your favorite method of

Kathrese McKee:

brainstorming new story ideas? Leave your answer at writing

Kathrese McKee:

pursuits.com forward slash podcast forward slash 46. And

Kathrese McKee:

that's all I have for today. Until next time, keep writing.

Kathrese McKee:

Thank you for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode,

Kathrese McKee:

please leave a comment and follow the podcast. If you're

Kathrese McKee:

new around here. I hope you will sign up for the weekly

Kathrese McKee:

newsletter writing pursuits. Tips for authors that link and

Kathrese McKee:

all the links mentioned in today's episode are in the

Kathrese McKee:

shownotes at writing pursuits.com Please join us on

Kathrese McKee:

Wednesdays for new episodes and keep writing my friends. Keep

Links