Writing a Story: Novel Ideas

Writing a Story: Novel Ideas

The world is full of original ideas waiting to be claimed. Even if the idea isn’t original, tweaking can be done to make an idea unique enough to appear original. So where does one start? Where does one go to get an storybook idea?

Keep your eyes open

Become a people watcher. Everyday people living their daily lives can be the start of a brand new story. This is where creativity comes into play. Ask yourself questions.

  • Where are these strangers going?
  • What are they doing?
  • Why are they at the particular place at that specific time?
  • What are they thinking?

Pay attention to details. Over seven billion people live in our world and not a one of them absolutely perfect. Use it to your advantage. For example, imperfect traits can if a fantasy or science fiction feel.

  • Why does that individual have overly pointy ears?
  • Does that man’s forehead protrude just a wee too much?
  • Are her eyes abnormally large to the point of looking alien?

Don’t be afraid to disguise real life. The world is rich in events. There’s a story waiting to written everywhere, because true life is amazing. Change the setting and names and fictionalize it. Look for ideas in:

  • The media.
  • Rumors spreading through the neighborhood.
  • Your personal experiences.

Ideas are EVERYWHERE. The world is your sociology experiment. It’s up to you to rip the ideas from it.


Eavesdropping. On the surface it seems rude, but really, it’s the right thing to do. If people didn’t want you to know about their lives, they wouldn’t talk loud enough for you to hear. A few tips on eavesdropping.

  • For subtle eavesdroppers:
    • Don’t look but be sure to keep one ear facing the talkers so you can hear as much as possible.
    • Keep yourself busy with another activity while listening.
    • If possible, take notes.
  • For bold eavesdroppers (my preference):
    • Don’t be afraid to look directly at the talkers so lipreading can be added to your listening abilities.
    • Ask questions and become a part of the conversation.

Stories in music. Many songs tell a story. Often times the songwriter has an entirely different story in mind than what it invokes in the listener. And that creates a wonderful opportunity to reinterpret a story from a song and make it yours. Some thoughts to keep in mind.

  • How does the music make you feel?
  • Where does the music take you in terms of setting?
  • How can you expand a story which is originally a few hundred words in a lyric into a full blown story?
  • Most importantly: Don’t plagiarize. A song can provide an idea, but the story must be uniquely yours.

Dream a Little Dream

Dreams are fascinating and often a lot more interesting than mundane life. That’s why keeping a dream journal can be a valuable tool when it comes to generating ideas for your story. We’ll skip the bullet points this time around. The biggest advice is to record as much detail as possible and as soon as possible. Dreams are so fleeting, don’t take the chance the thoughts will be lost throughout the day.

Here’s the bottom line with story ideas. Don’t neglect life around you. Stories can come from ordinary mundane things. With a little creativity, you can turn the mundane into something extraordinary.