6 Ways to Find Ideas For Your Next Story

Dive into the Novel Writing Series part 3 and learn the 3 things to do when prewriting your novel so you write your WIP successfully + freebie inside!

Let’s address how you can find the perfect idea for your next story. This may sound complicated and hard to do, but it’s really not. Ideas are all around us. If you look around, feel, open your eyes, tune in your ears, you will find ideas dropping everywhere.

The concept of finding ideas is however easier said than done. I can agree with this conclusion. But I do want to encourage you to know, they are all around you.

If you are ready to write a story… if you feel the desire to write your own story… if you wish to be able to proudly finish the year and say, “I wrote this story!”, finding your perfect idea to do so, is not as hard as you may think.

Here are 6 ways to find ideas for your next story.

1. People Watch

Dear writer, finding ideas is as easy as driving to your local Starbucks and watching the folk coming in and out. Watching what they’re doing, listening to what they’re saying, and taking in how they’re carrying themselves.

You may find yourself witnessing someone sick and being treated with some Chai tea. Or maybe someone comes in to buy a loved one a surprise gift card. You may even find people there working, and chatting up a storm.

By watching them, ideas will trigger in your mind. You may find yourself wanting to write a story about a man who always worked at a coffee shop, and fell in love with the barista, only to find out she was a vampire in hiding, and she was luring him in to feed on him.

You just never know what may come up as an idea for you. Take in people’s reactions and expressions. They will fuel the fire for your ideas and new stories. Stories are crafted around characters. No matter how much conflict you can muster, no matter how much drama you can include, your story will only be it’s best if it includes powerful characters.

This can be done by watching people and learning from their humanity so you can channel that, and put it in your story. Allow the humans around you to be a source for ideas. Watch them carefully. What they do, what they want. And think. What if they were a four legged monster who just wanted love? What if they were a masochist werewolf that was damned to be a violent beast forever?

Go out, watch humans, and get your next book idea.

2. Eavesdrop

You’d be surprised how many of the authors you love obtained their story idea by eavesdropping and listening to conversations of the people around them. This is fairly simple to accomplish without being rude.

Go out to eat with your girlfriend, closest confidant, wife, children, etc, and be cognizant of the conversations being had around you. Are the families around you arguing? Are they spreading rumours? Are they sharing about something juicy that happened earlier on in the day?

Maybe someone got fired in the most unconventional way. Maybe a child is telling their mom how they could’ve sworn when they woke up in the middle of the night they saw something staring back at them from the closet.

Don’t be afraid to perk your ears and listen up! Listen to what is being said, and importantly, what isn’t. Tune in when parents stifle information, or lovers get quiet. It may spark a love scene in your story. It may spark a heated argument that goes terribly south. It may help you to write the villain you’ve always wanted.

Don’t be afraid to go out, and do just enough eavesdropping. After all, it’s research!

3. Read Stories + Everyday News

It goes without saying, to craft stories, you have to read them. One source is the news, and paper. I know many people who still take the time to collect the paper and read them. I also know of people who avidly watch the news.

Oftentimes it’s just to know about what is going on around the country, and sometimes even around the world. However, when you watch the news or read stories, of the day, be open to finding another story idea -- especially if you’ve been looking for one.

Please note, these kinds of stories are on social media as well. Don’t limit yourself to the TV or the radio. Go on Facebook. What are people talking about? Go on Instagram. What stories are people sharing? Spend some time on Snapchat. You’ll be surprised at how many ideas you can find from people’s stories on Snapchat.

Soak up anything that crosses your mind as you go through these different mediums, and write it down. Make a note of it all. You’ll be shocked at what you find by the end of the day.

4. Read Books In + Out of Your Genre

I’ve never come across a writer, who isn’t a reader… And I never will. There’s no such thing. That’s like saying you think you’ll find an Olympian who isn’t disciplined and refuses to exercise. There’s no such thing. All writers are readers.

Therefore, everyday, you are coming across ideas. Many of my favorite stories, are just different ideas pulled from other stories and combined into one. There’s nothing new under the sun. Not. One. Thing. Don’t be afraid to read and write down what sticks out to you.

You may come across a scene where they are making love. Or fighting. Or where all hell breaks loose (no but literally. Fire, dragons, the whole nine.) Or maybe you come across a tender scene of a reconciled relationship between a mother and her prodigal son.

Don’t discount the stories you read as off limits. If anything, sense they’re already out in the universe, they’re fair game! Read on, and search. Read as a reader, but also read as a writer. Be cognizant of what you love. What sticks out to you, and write it down. It just might turn into your first best seller.

5. Think About the Story You Want to Read

Most stories are published, and go on to do very well (humm, hello bestseller status) because they were stories the author originally wanted to read, and couldn’t find anywhere. The stories you find on book shelves are the stories that were desperately desired yet nowhere to be found.

Do a bit of introspection. What stories do YOU want to read. What is something you find missing every time you complete a novel. What’s a story you wish someone would’ve written about, but every trip you make to the bookstore, you can’t find it?

Write THAT. The story you crave to read, the story you search for everywhere, the story you wish were on bookshelves, THAT is your next big idea. That is the story that wants to be told. Write down what exactly it is you want to read, and bingo. You have the idea you were searching for all along.

6. Ponder Your Favorite Stories + Extract

I touched on this a bit before, but listen friend, nothing is new under the sun. Everything is just a better copy of the original… okay most times. We can all admit, it’s about impossible to top Tolkien, Poe, and Shakespeare.

Nevertheless, nothing is new, therefore you don’t have to fear becoming a copycat or a fraud because you take a thing or two from your favorite stories. Authors do it all the time. We are inspired by the beautiful stories we read, and somehow, we create something new from it all.

And believe it or not, one day, other authors in the world will do the same with your stories. They will read it, pick at the parts they love and use it to fuel their own stories. Think of the stories you love. Better yet, make a list of the top 5 to 7 stories you love.

Think about the themes, the messages, the main conflict, the characters, and all the driving forces behind the stories. Extract those different nuggets and write them all down.

Once you have your list, from there you can cherry pick. In no time, you will have a plethora of ideas to fuel your next story.

Let’s Bring It Home!

At the end of the day, stories are all around us. It’s up to us to look around and find them. If you are certain this journey as a writer is for you, find your idea and get to writing.

Truth be told, your readers are already out here in the world. They’re just waiting for your story to drop so they can bask in the greatness. It’s up to you to find the right idea, write your story, and share it with the world.

Remember to be a sponge. Soak up everything! Conversations, expressions, reactions, trending stories, and read, read, read!

You’re bound to find your perfect story. When you do, write!

Let's chat.

What are some ways you plan to find your next story idea?

About me potrait _temp.jpg

Stephanie BwaBwa

Hey there! I'm a fantasy author, poet, and book writing strategist. I help writers find the story they need to tell from within themselves, then write it, one word at a time. I'm here to help you go from wonky idea, to completed manuscript. When I'm not writing, you can catch me binging Disney or nose deep in a fantasy novel, because, priorities.