Ep 06: Generating Story Ideas
Where Do Story Ideas Come From?
Oh my stars…look around!
I mean literally everything you see, touch, smell, hear, and taste has the potential to be a story starter – the inspiration of a book. But, no matter where your story comes from, you must nurture that inspiration.
The simplest way to explain where story inspiration comes from is to think in terms of a harvest. We’ll use sweet corn because I’m from the Midwest, and we love our sweet corn.
Sweet corn comes from a kernel.
That kernel is planted in nutrient rich soil, watered, and given a lot of warm Midwest sun rays throughout the months of June, July and August. During the nurturing months, the kernel becomes a stalk and then ears of corn. The corn is eventually plucked and sold – and becomes a delish dinner dish on my table.
Story inspirations are the same.
You first have an idea, an inspiration. You must nurture that one inspirational idea, and this works in both fiction and non-fiction. It’s your roadmap of writing your story.
When I write fiction I use my surroundings, daily interactions, and events of my life to shape my characters, scenes and plots. I love to observe people. People excite me. I’ve been told I am a dialogue rich writer – because I observe real people doing and saying real stuff, not things I am trying to pull out of my buttocks.
My mind goes a mile a minute during events…like the time I was rushing out of a hospital because a tornado was sweeping across the city, had to stay and help move patients, only to find a 15 minute commute would take over an hour in torrential downpours, 50 mph winds, and limited street access.
Or that time when I got onto the Pink Cadillac tour bus…what a disgusting mess!
The idea of taking small ideas or observations and nurturing them into stories is what I call Author Story Starters.
Start with Observation
Stop. Look high, low, and side to side. Inspiration and story starters are all around us. Embrace the sights, sounds, smells, tastes… . What is it you feel while the wind dances across your face, or the sun heats your skin from above?
When I walk my dog, I choose different locations throughout the week. During this time I notice:
Smoke billowing from power plants
People biking: young to the older
A man recovering from back surgery
An aged dog enjoying her last years with her owners