Tuesday, 14 July 2020

How to Generate Story Ideas Quickly and Easily

You love short story writing but just at the moment the ideas won't come. Sound familiar? With these idea generators you'll never be left in the doldrums again. Get your next story out of your head and onto the paper in no time.

​Want to enter a short story competition but the ideas won't come? Got an editor who's after you for a story for her magazine that you can't say 'no' to? Got a mind that's as empty as the Sahara? What you need is a sure-fire method to kick-start those creative juices. And guess what...?

Do this right now: Go to the mirror, look yourself boldly in the eye and say with as much conviction as you can muster "I am a writer! This is just a temporary hiccup in the great digestive system of life. I vow to be burp free from this moment on".

Now, don't you feel better already?

OK. So let's take a look at two ways I've used to get over this problem in the past. At least one of them should work for you. Try and treat these methods as a game so that you begin to enjoy them, and often your heart will go into it as well as your head.

Method 1 - Talk Rubbish

Rubbish? No, I haven't lost my marbles. This method works like a charm.

What has happened is that your imagination has gone into a sulk. So what we need to do is get it off its derry air and working again.

Begin to write words and phrases, any words, any phrases, just as they come into your head. Don't censor them in any way, just let them flow. Like this:

Flypaper, astronaut, Kentish Town, lucky parsnip, crystal glass, stapler, weekend away, Morris dancing ...

Now we use the writers five good friends What, Where, Why, When & How.

Example: What was the flypaper doing? Falling off the hook.

Why was it falling? Because Tiddles had climbed onto the wall cabinet and knocked it off.

Where did it land? Onto the mortgage acceptance form ruining it irreparably.

When did the mortgage acceptance form have to be in? Tomorrow at 12 noon.

How did Mrs Harforth of 16 Shellness-on-Sea Caravan Park bring triumph out of disaster? Or failure? (Maybe because it was the wrong house for her/them.)

Now we're up and running and we can take Mrs H along her exciting and emotional journey to a breathtaking and satisfying conclusion.

Start with any WWWWH question and work through one stage at a time until you've got a result that could be a goer. If the first word in your list doesn't go anywhere, try the next and so on.

Method 2 - Fantasy rubbish This is an extention of the previous exercise but this time we write down short sentences where something is HAPPENING. There must be movement going on to get your inner visual imagination into gear.

For example:

Delores watched the balloon bump languidly into the ice cream van...

or:

The F15 fighter plane roared through the valley sending sheep and cattle fleeing...

As for single words, just think of any old sentence, no matter how silly, and don't stop until you've got half a dozen or so down on paper.

Now begin to ask the questions. What, where, why, when and how.

Take the first example. What if the balloon collides into the ice cream van? Does the dashing young ice cream vendor catch it and hand it back to the blushing Delores? Does a small child, trying to catch it, rush across the road in front of on-coming traffic? Does the balloon burst and frighten a dear old granny buying an ice cream, causing her to drop it?

Not earth shattering story lines I know, but they would make a start - and that's what we're trying to do, make a start. Just keep developing the original incident until you've got the germ of a plot going.

So, there you have it. I hope these block-busters (sorry) will come to your aid and help you get that story started!

(c) Mervyn Love

Mervyn Love has been writing stories and articles since time immemorial. He would be delighted to have you visit his website at http://www.WritersReign.co.uk which has a grand selection of resources, articles, competition listings and links which will benefit any writer from the aspiring to the well published. 

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