Where to Find a Story

So, where do the story ideas come from? How do you find the story starter or the story ender? It's all fine and good if the idea is there with a sign saying, "I'd make a great story," but it rarely happens. I have five places where I can usualy find ideas for a story.

  1. News. Newspapers, evening news, morning news, internet and magazines are all places that I can find story ideas. Some are local; some are national or global. Some are simply stories such as a wounded warrior home from war; some can be turned into a mystery: finding a lost ship in the Great Lakes. The news is always a source for stories.
  2. Research. When I'm researching, I can usually find the beginnings of another novel . . . somewhat. Researching for an historical fiction novel about the Crusades time period led to an interesting story about pirates in the Baltic Sea which, in turn, led to a story about pirates in the Chesapeake Bay.
  3. Conversations. One never knows when a random conversation might trigger an idea. A friend of mine teaches and told me about a conversation students had concerning the perfect water fountain - not to mention which class was the best class to ask for a water break. Location was everything. While it might not make the greatest novel, it could make an interesting monologue or short story.
  4. Causes. Something that you're passionate about is always a good place to look for ideas. Praying for and supporting the persecuted Church is something that I feel passionate about, and I can usually find a story there. It doesn't have to be something big, though; I also happen to believe that we need to use more artisan crafts in our daily lives. Once again, I can find ways to generate ideas. Another way to utilize this thought is to subscribe to magazines that follow your passions.
  5. Family. Specifically, family history is a good generator. Yes, some are strictly historical like the ancestor who fought in the French and Indian War, but some can be contemporary like proving that you are a descendant of some rich nobleman and deserve the money. My own family has been in the States since before the American War of Independence. I have Loyalist and Patriot; Northener and Southerner; Canadian and American blood in my veins - and stories from all of it. Family history might appear boring, but it can be a good place to generate an idea for your next novel.
Ideas are all around us, waiting to be harvested. One way to keep hold of any ideas is to start a journal. Some have a personal journal, a writer's journal and an artist's journal, but I found that a plain journal works best for me since I don't like having multiple journals to find. I make my own journals, but even a simple notebook works so long as you use it. Write down conversations; tape in clippings from a magazine. If, like me, you use the computer every day, starting a story idea folder might work. The important thing is that you use it, and can find the ideas later. Occasionally read through the ideas to see if something new pops out at you.

What about you? Where do you find your story ideas?


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