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How do you come up with story ideas?

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions How do you come up with story ideas?

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  • #136107
    Joy C. Woodbury
    @joy-caroline

    Hi everyone, I am wondering how you all come up with story ideas. Lately I’ve been struggling to come up with ideas that excite me and can last over twenty pages. I’d really appreciate anyone sharing some tips that could help!

    Thanks,

    Joy

    In the rain the pavement shines like silver
    All the lights are misty in the river

    #136111
    Bethania Gauterius
    @sparrowhawke

    @joy-caroline

    I get a lot of ideas from asking myself ‘what-if’ questions, from thinking about ways to subvert or re-do tropes (I’m currently messing with the Chosen One trope), and from history. Seriously, I can’t read my history textbook without getting a ton of ideas about characters and plotlines. I also get inspired by things from my life–usually an interesting person I’d want to turn into a character or something funny I heard someone say (little kids are great for this).

    One thing I’d suggest is making a list of things you absolutely love in stories and seeing if you can brainstorm something from that. Beverly Cleary said write the book you want to read. I don’t think you should waste time with a story you don’t like. (Now you may not like it every day you’re writing it, but you get my idea, yes?)

    Another idea–think of a book or story you disliked and think of how you would have changed it to make it better. I still need to do this with A Wrinkle in Time.

    And you can always try to make your shorter ideas into short stories!

    (Also, I’ve seen you post about your WIP and lemme just say, it sounds awesome! I didn’t even know Paul had a sister.)

    Hope this helps!

    "For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." - Psalm 103:14

    #136117
    Brian Stansell
    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    @joy-caroline

    Hi Joy,

    One can never really tell what might inspire an idea, so the best advice I can give is to be open to input and let the Lord lead you to it. There is something so powerful in finding something that God directs you to. Oftentimes, it may even be assessing what topics and ideas pique your interest and sustainably so.

    Sometimes it can be a picture that sort of draws you into it, or even an odd mental image.  C.S. Lewis had the image of a faun carrying parcels in a snowy wood, near an iron lamppost and that was the catalyst to writing the Narnia books.  Aslan, sort of, leaped out onto the page, because his character came with the images as Lewis began to ask himself questions about the images.

    Sometimes in my own writing, when I get stuck, I go to Pixabay and search through images there and sometimes hit upon one that gives me a set of questions and ideas.

    Here’s an example of one of those images that became part of my WIP.

    Link: Sword in shadowy grove image

    This image helped me write Chapter 14 – “The Shibboleth and The Sword” of my WIP – Excavatia: From Dust Arise, and I paired it with something from the strange biblical story of Jephthah and the Ephraimites in Judges 12:1-7, and how they used a speech impediment to root out spies.
    In this instance, both some biblical knowledge and an image linked in my mind to resolve an issue of a hidden spy within my story.
    You are welcome to check out that Chapter on my online novel if you are interested. You’ll find the link to the TOC of it in my profile here on Story Embers.  The Chapter even has this image at the beginning.

    Just pray, ask and be open to what God calls your attention to. He knows your heart, gifts, and the unique way He will express Himself through those gifts.
    If you find a passion linked to an idea, it is most likely something the Lord wants you to explore. Hold to 1 Thessalonians 5:24.
    May your thoughts and inspirations seek His Glory.
    Have a blessed evening.

    Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
    I was born in war.
    Fighting from my first breath.

    #136118
    Joy C. Woodbury
    @joy-caroline

    @sparrowhawke

    Thanks for the tips, they are all things I hadn’t thought of doing before! 🙂 I will definitely be trying them.

    Thank you! Paul’s sister is mentioned just once in Acts 23:16.

    In the rain the pavement shines like silver
    All the lights are misty in the river

    #136119
    Joy C. Woodbury
    @joy-caroline

    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    Thank you! I’ve never thought of surfing Pixabay for ideas, so that will be very helpful to keep in mind. Biblical knowledge is also another reason to increase Bible reading, since no book has stories equally as exciting and dramatic. 🙂

    Thank you for the advice.

    In the rain the pavement shines like silver
    All the lights are misty in the river

    #136121
    Brian Stansell
    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    @joy-caroline

    Hi Joy,
    I couldn’t agree more.  The Scriptures are the basis of all human experience. In them you can find every nuance of the human person represented, from the struggling faithful, to the person who felt abandoned by all, to the apathetic and blindly reaching masses, to the compromised pretenders, to the guilt-ridden seeking forgiveness, to the arrogant villainous power-seeker, to the reveling and unrepentant pagan.  If you are ever stuck with a character’s motivations, search the Scriptures to find a human equivalent and read the context of their story you find there.  It illumines us personally but it also gives us insight where we and others may get clouded in the muck of humanity’s fallen-state irrationality.  Even fictional constructs of non-human characters are filtered through our own understanding of humanity and must have attributes of humanity that allows readers to have a reference point of who or what they are.  Any animal story is anthropomorphized, to all human readers to relate to the animal characters.

    All created beings also have the fingerprint of The Creator on them, so God Himself, Who Purposed all creation, has a reason for being in everything both microscopic and macroscopic in the unseen and seen universe.  (Col. 1:16) Everything clarifies by first discovering His Purposes, and then moving into “their” purposes. (Rev. 4:11)

    In the account of Jesus’s appearance to the two men on their walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-31), Jesus explains to them (vs. 27) how His-story was embedded in the scriptures. (John 5:39&45-47, Psa. 40:7 & Heb. 10:7)

    The stories of the bible are life-changing because God know they were all related to our human experience in all times.

    In this way, God Himself can help guide you in your creative expressions of characters too.

    May the Lord bless your gifts and may you be deepened in the discovery journey as He walks with you through it!

    Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
    I was born in war.
    Fighting from my first breath.

    #136122
    Joy C. Woodbury
    @joy-caroline

    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    Thanks so much for all this! It’s going to be very helpful to keep in mind, and also reminded me of why I love writing Biblical fiction in the first place. 🙂

    In the rain the pavement shines like silver
    All the lights are misty in the river

    #136124
    Esmeralda Gramilton
    @esmeralda-gramilton

    @joy-caroline

    Hello!

    I usually find inspiration from pictures I’ve taken or images on the internet, whether it’s of interesting landscapes or a captivating portrait. When I’m drawn to something, I ask myself questions about it, usually starting with “How did this come to be?”

    To answer it, I describe what I’m seeing and what could have happened to make it look the way it does. Why is it so pretty, why is it made the way it was, or how did it come to be so ragged and torn apart, who might’ve made something like that, etc.

    This usually gets me thinking up characters, places, or scenarios that can start a story, and in order to keep my inspiration up for the new thing, I don’t limit myself to “main characters” and “side characters” or even start at the beginning of the story. If I get bored too quickly or the excitement passes, I won’t have the motivation to keep working on it because it never went anyway I liked.

    Other times, I’ll just be in the mood to write a very fairy-tale-esc story, so I’ll just start working from there, already having a general theme to go for.

    When I absolutely don’t know how to make something work, I just take already created characters and use them for the story. It doesn’t have to be permanent, and allows me to write without worrying about creating new characters with new dynamics or have to worry about how they would react, because I already know that part of it.

    I hope this helps.

    “No-one can judge your worth; They can only influence your judgement of your own worth.” ~Elysso

    #136125
    Joy C. Woodbury
    @joy-caroline

    @esmeralda-gramilton

    Wow! That helps a lot, thank you! I’ll definitely be trying out your method.

    By the way, I love your profile picture.

    In the rain the pavement shines like silver
    All the lights are misty in the river

    #136129
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @joy-caroline

    Cool idea! My methods change a lot, but like Sparrowhawke, I often pick a couple of my favorite tropes and see where they fit in.

    I also often pick a time period and an area, or a specific aesthetic I want to write. That sounds vague because it is. I have no idea what I’m doing most of the time and I definitely can’t put it into words. LOL

    Like, one of the books I’m planning has a very specific aesthetic that involves lighthouses and masquerade balls and the colors red and navy and violins and *vague gesturing* yaknow, that. I wish I had a plot instead, but I just get a vague, uncertain idea XD

    Scrolling through mood boards on Pinterest does give me character ideas pretty often though!

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #136135
    Esmeralda Gramilton
    @esmeralda-gramilton

    @joy-caroline

    Thanks! I’m glad I could help.

    “No-one can judge your worth; They can only influence your judgement of your own worth.” ~Elysso

    #136137
    Joy C. Woodbury
    @joy-caroline

    @rose-colored-fancy

    Thank you for sharing, Rose! I sometimes get inspired by random objects as well, actually!

    In the rain the pavement shines like silver
    All the lights are misty in the river

    #136141
    Neasa
    @irishcelticredflowercrown

    @joy-caroline

    Hello! How are you? It’s nice to meet you 🙂

    That’s an excellent question. So my WIP is based on Irish mythology, and that sort of came about after I gained an interest in Greek mythology. I decided I wanted to write a novel based on Greek mythology, so I was super mad when I found out that my idea had already been taken (i.e. Percy Jackson) lol. But I still pursued that idea, and all of a sudden when I was 13, the idea randomly hit me. Why not do Irish mythology? XD

    X-Men inspired me to write about a world that is heavily divided between two races, those who have powers and the ordinary people. One thing I have noticed is that there are loads of films and books about the magic people being oppressed by humans. So I decided to turn that on its head. Instead, my Faerie race are the oppressors oppressing humans.

    I also get loads of inspiration from the books and novels I read. Particularly after watching Stranger Things and Star Wars the Force Awakens (people are going to kill me for saying this, but I really like that film and I love Rey. I also liked the Rise of Skywalker but I did NOT like the Last Jedi XD), I was really inspired to write about a girl who could move things with her mind, born with a power she couldn’t control. I just wanted to write about someone who would be my ideal hero, someone I could relate to, who was like me.

    I struggled a lot with self-image growing up, especially because I felt that all the girls in my class in school were much much prettier than me. I told myself that lads didn’t like me because of how I looked. And it really annoyed me when I read YA fantasy books about SUPER gorgeous people who were desirable by all. It still annoys me! So I decided to fight against that. My protagonist has a huge scar across half her face and neck, is smallish and is definitely not on skinny side if you get me. So she is definitely not beautiful by societal standards. I think that’s what will make her future romance even more amazing 🙂

    I also plan on writing a romance for my protagonist, between her and a villain-ish character who redeems himself. That sort of came about as a result of a dissatisfaction with the enemies to lovers trope in media. All of the examples I have seen have been just either super toxic or downright ridiculous or both (*cough* Rey and Kylo Ren *cough*). So I wanted to take that trope and do it just right. Please God I can do that somehow.

    That’s all I suppose. And my ideas changed a lot overtime, so there have been hundreds of different little things that became inspirations 🙂

    #136148
    Joy C. Woodbury
    @joy-caroline

    @irishcelticredflowercrown

    Hello! I’m doing well, thank you for asking. It’s great to meet you, too!

    Wow. Let me just say that your response was super inspiring to read. I could not agree more about the YA books about flawless and desirable protagonists. I cannot count the number of books I’ve read where the female MC is soooo beautiful and knows it and all the guys fall in love with her just by looking at her. *rolls eyes* I absolutely love that you’re portraying a character who is not beautiful by societal standards, but who will look into herself and find where true beauty lies.

    I also completely agree with you on the enemies to lovers trope. It doesn’t sit well with me how so many of those relationships are just toxic, and I think it sends a super unhealthy message. I really want to read your books now!

    Thanks for the advice on inspiration, I will definitely be using it!

    In the rain the pavement shines like silver
    All the lights are misty in the river

    #136156
    Brian Stansell
    @obrian-of-the-surface-world

    @irishcelticredflowercrown


    @joy-caroline

    I pray blessings on you both.
    Please let no assessment of men or boys ever diminish you.  Perfection is in Jesus, and He had cloaked each of you in His Righteousness.  Let no perceived imperfection of yourself, ever cause you to doubt that you are beautiful.  Seek the pleasure of Your Creator Who already chose you and died for you.

    As you grow, let boys catch the magnificence of how He shines through you.  If they are not drawn to that, then dismiss them.  They cannot win your heart if they are not first equipped by The Heart that might give them any capacity in which to love you.  Never settle. Daughter of The King should never seek suitors among the base peasantry.  Let yourselves be drawn to the light of Jesus that is demonstrated in a young man willing to put God first, before himself and willing to put you ahead of himself.

    [Pro 31:30 CSB] 30 Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised.

    Remember this was a prophecy of the Messiah.
    [Isa 53:2 KJV] 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him.

    Don’t let the lures of the world’s assessment of what is or what is not attractive sway you.  You are both very beautiful.  See yourselves through God’s reflections and in due season God will draw the suitor to each of you that Honors Him by loving you. Every good gift, including those who cherish you, comes from your loving Father who adores you and planned you with every lovely aspect of your being. Don’t settle for anyone less than the one whom God approves to love his daughters.

    Have a very blessed day!  God has beautiful scars too.  Every one of them is an “I Love You” mark.

     

    Brian Stansell (aka O'Brian of the Surface World)
    I was born in war.
    Fighting from my first breath.

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