Where do novel ideas come from–and ones for books too? (See what I did there? No? Okay, moving on). Do they just fall out of the sky and knock you on the head? Or are they the product of intense hours spent wringing loose connections out of your brain and rearranging them to form a greater picture?
So what happens when… nothing happens?
We’ve all spent weeks, months, even years without that special spark that gives life to a new writing project. So what can we do as writers to keep those creative juices flowing? And how do we do so without regurgitating the same old ideas that surround us every day on television, movies, and the books we love?
Make up a list of really dramatic, original characters in one column, major plot lines in another, and finally, settings in the last. Now use a pencil to start drawing connections between them at random. Take a few moments to imagine each new potential story. Now remember, this is just an exercise, a starting point to launch your story from. Nothing is set in stone yet, so use this as an opportunity to go crazy. Really push your characters and plots to extremes to keep things fresh and new.
Do you find that your train of thought is going around in circles? Two heads are better than one. Find a friend and bounce your latest ideas off them. It doesn’t matter if they’re not a writer or even much of a reader. The act of talking out loud will help you hone in on what you really want your next story to be about. And by conversing with someone, it will help keep the flow of ideas coming. Best of all, your friend might have some great ideas of their own (just make sure you mention them in your acknowledgements).
As writers, we gather inspiration and material from the world around us. Go ahead and use that inspiration, but how do we avoid simply repeating everyday, mundane ideas? Take your boring neighbour as an example, but don’t make them ordinarily boring. Make them really, really boring. And then, what if her quilt guild is a cover for an underground endangered monkey trafficking business. Or an illegal swing dance club? Or what if her bakery business is donating baked goods to the local prison that actually contains tools to help the prisoners break out? Better yet, what if she’s breaking them out to build an army to take down Pilsbury?
Okay, maybe not. But you get the idea. Push your story to the next level by asking yourself WHAT IF and never stop turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.
How do you come up with new ideas?