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Tag Archives: Finding story ideas for fiction

Catching story ideas on the fly

 

I’m a writer as rarely as possible, when forced by an idea too lovely to let die unwritten.

– Richard Bach

Our story ideas may not be as esoteric as Richard Bach’s – he wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Where can we get story ideas and when we get them, what do we do with them?

Story ideas often pop into our heads when we are busy doing something else or more likely when our mind hits a lull. Or we are reading an article in the daily newspaper or the classifieds (online or in print) and our right brain, the creative side, suddenly wakes up. A conversation overheard on a bus, especially those cell-phone monologues, conversations overheard in restaurants can suggest several story ideas, often of the criminal intent. Brochures on community groups, art shows, and even the supermarket flyers can inspire. Take the old (former) Dominion supermarket slogan, “We’re fresh obsessed,” and try to look at a story angle that is fresh. Taking a shower or bath is also guaranteed to fill you with more than water. The Internet is full of potential story ideas. Don’t underestimate the power of dreams. Drugs and alcohol are not recommended as you will see from the following example.

Late one night a photographer friend once thought he had a brilliant idea. He scribbled it down on a piece of paper before he crashed for the night. When he woke the next morning, he looked at the paper. On it he had written, “I am very drunk.”

Another moral from this story is look at photographs. A picture is worth a thousand words, but before the words come the ideas.

What do you do when an idea hits? Grab it before it disappears into the nether area of your mind. Write it down. Keep a notebook (electronic or paper) handy. If you think faster than you type or scrawl, use a recorder for dictating your ideas. If the source is the Internet, bookmark it under the heading “Story ideas.”

Then let the idea rest for at least a few days. The idea will simmer in your subconscious and when you sit down at your computer, the act of starting to write will draw out these ideas. On rare occasions, a simmering story suddenly bubbles and you are compelled to write it right now. Do so – if you don’t you might not only lose the momentum, but the idea as well. Nothing, except maybe a blank screen, is worse than an idea gone stale because it was left in storage beyond its best date.

Follow the advice of Martin Woods, who said,

“Write great ideas down as soon…”

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Author of the Beyond mystery novels – whose ideas came from all of the above.

And if you click on the Beyond Faith cover icon at the top, it will take you to the one of the online places the novel is available – as well as more details about the novel itself.

 

 

 

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Turning winter weather into fiction

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

If you’re like me and hate winter with a passion, don’t just moan and groan about it. Write about it.

Not necessarily your hatred for the season itself. But set your story in winter. Take some of the weather highlights as white fodder for your stories. Follow news stories on the weather on TV or online from various media outlets. One of the best sources is The Weather Network. Both on TV and online, they feature stories in video and text (online) formats about some of the extremes in winter, as well as amusing incidents.

For example, this week, a motorist parked his car beside Lake Erie in south western Ontario. Then we got a flash freeze and snow. If you can’t imagine what happened (no the car didn’t fall into the lake, check out the story here). From that you can let your imagination run wild with story ideas. Maybe there is a dead body in the car – froze to death or murdered before and left there to die? Somebody in an emotional turmoil – failed relationship, terminal illness, etc. – decides to end it all. Somebody wants to save their body for posterity to come back in a later century and finds a unique way to “preserve” his or her body.  Or? Well, you get the picture.

The main idea is to take the actual story, not copy it, but use it for inspiration for your story. And be original.

You can also do the opposite of what is written. In my story “The Couch” from my short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012), I took a theme from many private eye stories – the PI who is having trouble making ends meet. (If you want a recent TV series on that one, watch the British series Case Histories). My story had a young, mid-20s PI who had just the opposite happening – too many clients. So my story took this dilemma and spun out a tale of how this PI tried to reduce the number of clients. It wasn’t that straightforward as the story has many twists and turns and a surprise ending.

And that’s all I will tell about “The Couch.” If you want to read it (warning, short plug coming here), you’ll have to read “Beyond the Tripping Point.” Click on the book cover below for one place it is available besides the usual Amazon (yes, it’s available there, too)

And use that blizzard keeping you indoors for time given to write your story.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Beyond the Tripping Point Cover 72dpi

 

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