Writing Tips

Finding a story idea

Where do you find story ideas?

Often, I’m not sure where my writing ideas come from, and other times, I can pinpoint bits and pieces of my life that have come alive through my writing. 

For my debut novel, Underneath the Whiskey, I was inspired by an ex’s father and couldn’t fathom how my ex grew up. While we were together, I asked questions that never got answered. Therefore, my curious mind went to work with the how’s and why’s and possible solutions. After a year of brainstorming, my fingers hit the keys, and my novel came to life.

For my second novel, Simply an Enigma, my friend, Brittany Evans, came to me with an idea of what book she wanted to see out in the world. The novel involved two different points of view, and she asked me to co-write with her. Therefore, we set up a Google Doc, and the story came to life.

For my latest young adult novel coming out this year, all I know is that I was getting incredibly frustrated by the state of the world. It became hard to focus on anything else. To channel my feelings, I started writing, and it turned itself into a novel in 2019. As 2020 hit, the story only became more important to me 

For a novella romance coming out this Fall, I felt nostalgic about the time I lived in Australia. Around November in 2020, I had such an urge to travel again, but with COVID, that couldn’t happen. So, I did the next best thing: I traveled within my story. 

My mind is continually running. There is rarely peace within it whether I’m thinking about what has to get done, where I’m going, what I’m doing, or I’m asking questions and creating in my head–I’m always thinking.

Because of this, I never know the exact moment a story idea comes to me. I believe there is always something being worked on that won’t come to the surface until I ask for it. I also don’t start writing until the stories fester in my mind to the point that I’m distracted during my everyday tasks.

What happens, though, when you want to write yet, you have no story ideas?

  1. Writing Prompts! 

Writing prompts are some of my favorite ways to either get some instant creativity. No writing prompt has ever become a full-length novel for me. However, it has stirred up ideas. 

Writing prompts get my mind into a creative mode that I can then take bits and pieces of the writing prompt that inspire me and run with an idea. Or, just starting a prompt can elicit an idea that’s been in the back of my mind.

Represent has numerous writing prompts on our Pinterest and Instagram pages. Pinterest is a compilation of our own plus other creators. On Instagram, we post a new prompt every Saturday!

  1. Have conversations! Particularly if you write contemporary. 

Talk to different people. Go on social media and read or watch about other people’s lives. Ask yourself questions about how a person got to that place in their life. If you’re talking to a person, ask them questions. Immerse yourself fully into their story.

  1. Think about situations you’ve been through. 

A heartbreak, a stressful situation, a death? Or think about what is going on in your friend’s lives or family’s lives. Have you had questions about anything that you haven’t gotten the answer to yet or at all? Does anything make you confused? Or angry? Or curious? 

Take these emotions and start answering the questions in written form for yourself.

  1. Move

Not pack up your belongings and move (although sometimes that helps!), but move your body. Get the energy flowing throughout your system, so it isn’t just your brain working. Listen to music or a podcast, go for a walk or a run, immerse yourself in nature. Distract yourself for a little bit, then open up a blank document or a notebook and allow yourself to free write.

  1. Free write

Sometimes a blank screen or page in a notebook is great just to get your ideas out. Get out the fears that you’ll never come up with an idea, that you’ll never become a published author, that what you write will suck. Write down everything running through your head. It’s clogging up space for an idea to get through because of the fear, procrastination, and what-ifs. Just start writing words, whether or not it makes sense.

Often, throughout a free write, you’ll end up with some sort of creative idea, whether or not it turns into anything productive. 

And guess what? If you don’t come up with an idea, you’ve had a therapeutic session. You’ve released the negativity out into the world in a safe place that now allows your mind the space to think differently. 

What are some of your favorite ways to get story ideas?

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