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6 Easy Ways to Get Ideas

IDEAS
A common novice writers question is, ‘where do authors get their ideas come from?’ The answer is simple, everywhere.

Without trouble, you can create more ideas than you could use in a lifetime. They are easy to get, but making them good takes hard work and perseverance.

What is difficult is making the decision of which project to put your energy into completing. As creative projects take time to complete, you may feel they are never complete, use the most workable ideas available.

These should be your favourites. Ones you know you can complete within the shortest span. Completion of small projects gives you confidence tackling bigger ones. This applies to other sectors of life. It’s good getting ideas on the page while practising your writing skills.

1.   QUESTION
Start being sceptical and question. Just by questioning, you can discover all manner of plots.

I am one of the world’s biggest sceptics. I always ask myself questions. ‘Why is this person telling me this?’ ‘Do I trust what they are saying?’ and many more.

Unfortunately, many news outlets, even your best friends, will have an agenda they use to influence you into their way of thinking. Everybody does it without realising.

Some clued up people, but mostly companies, use influence to exploit people. I think this is wrong. I try to allow people to draw their own conclusions about topics raised in my writing by considering both sides of every situation I come across, and taking fair, neutral standpoints.

Ask yourself ‘What if…? Et voila! There is a story. The ‘What If’ method is an effective way of simplifying your story when it is complete, and you are thinking of writing a short synopsis. It sums up the essence in one sentence.

Another idea-generating question is 'if you could write anything, without worrying it had to be good, what would it be'? This should give you ideas you may think are beyond your capabilities, but pushing for those heights brings you closer to them. This applies to any art, not just writing.

Other questions to ask are what I call the annoying child questions. ‘How’? ‘Why’? The answers are not Indians, as they are Native Americans, or is it American Indians? Political correctness is difficult when public opinions change over time, but I know y definitely does have a long tail. All children want to know, is the answer to their questions. This should carry through adulthood.

2.   RESEARCH
With research, too much is better than not enough. Throughout the planning process, store information you want including, in a research folder, no matter how small. It gives stories texture.

When choosing research topics, consider things you can mimic. These can be historical events, or figures, to use for scenarios. Research could also inspire creative job or hobby choices for characters.

While researching, you may notice authors writing similar works. Read their novels. It’s good reading more than you write, but don’t plagiarise. Reading their works means you can veer away from replication.

If stuck for ideas, maybe particular inventions, periods or people interest you. Idea generation can be as simple as clicking on online encyclopaedia entries to see what you discover.

When reading subjects, you may see completely different topics that pique your interest, taking you in new directions. Look at them.

Online encyclopaedias comprise of hyperlinks to other pages they hold. Most include citations for history buffs. They provide many varied, interesting facts.

Using this, you can take the life of a princess, put her in different countries, in different periods; with gangs of people, you find to accompany her. Think of how different people could react to one another, and how you can incorporate other elements into their lives.

Online encyclopaedias have haters, but genuinely get better daily as helpful people add information. For accuracy, cross-reference facts, especially in historical works, but for fantasy inspiration, it’s an invaluable tool.

3.   LIFE
Events happen every day that can inspire. Story seedlings are everywhere. Look at newspapers, the internet, on park benches, all sorts of places. If you stop to scope around, you see the world for what it is. Could J.G hearts S.P, carved into a tree, spawn a love story? Look at life. Breathe it in.

Look for daily occurrences. They will likely resonate with people with similar lives. Twists on common incidents prove good story potential.

Adding matters, you are passionate about, helps. This can be love or hate filled passion. Use anything to get ideas flowing.

If you don’t agree with something, writing about it, gives you chances to explore both sides of arguments, perhaps learning. Trying to acquire knowledge is always a worthwhile activity.

4.   FREE-WRITE
You could write about anything on your mind. Even with the most mundane topic, you will be able to find some beauty to extract.

Once you discover your chosen subject, write down words that are similar to, or relate to it. When you have word groups, put them in an order and add to them. As it grows, you will see connections. This is a good way to begin plots.

Alternately, just do something called free writing. Write whatever comes out. Literally, anything you want. Don’t stop until your mind is exhausted. Don’t worry about it making sense. Keep going until you’re spent. When you are, chip away at what you write, sculpting it into a masterpiece.

5.   REFLECT
Other than reading and writing, what else do you do with free time? Do you enjoy music? Perhaps you like cinema, or own interesting pets? Favourite hobbies make great bases for stories because it requires a pool of knowledge, and a passion, to enjoy any pastime. Your passion will come out on the page.

Listen to favourite songs. Watch favourite movies. Picture a favourite view. Try to understand why it’s your favourite. When you know, you can extract what makes it special, and replicate the bits you love into your own work.

6.   CHARACTERISE
A great idea is to think you are a character and proceed to write down your personality. You could use it, or at least parts, for different characters. It’s also useful for other reasons.

Write your likes, dislikes, positive and negative traits. Think of old, current or dream jobs. Look at character charts for more helpful ideas.

You and you alone, will be writing your story, and will be the biggest part in bringing it to life, so it’s a useful tool to have. It’s because you can use traits from it for characters. As the traits will be ones you share, it makes them easier to write.

If you keep one, only add character traits to it. Never delete them as you age. You can remember how you felt in the past, despite changing. It’s a good tool figuring out what type of person you are.

This shows you the major plots of your life, your interests and your passions. You can then research those themes. This is a similar process to mind mapping, which is a much-underrated tool.

You could also keep character documents including traits of everyone you see on a regular basis. This can be friends, family, even your foes. You can use your experience of being with them, and seeing them react in situations, to add personality quirks to characters. This should leave you with list of traits, jobs and hobbies you could use for characters, which you will have no problem explaining, as they will be parts of you, or people you know.

A good idea is collecting groups of completely different words that describe you. It’s great because then you can find links between them. Having concept list that sum up your personality and outlook on life make it much easier seeing what excites you, and what is important to you.

When you have these, you can then expand on them to create novels that are personal to you. This is a portion of mine as an example.

1.    Language - Wordplay - Puns
2.    Sciences - Mathematics - Infinity
3.    Sport - Football - West Ham

4.    Music - Funk - Guitar

Happy Creations!

More Information: Character Charts, Hobbies, Comedy, Music, Art

Jim M