Stumped for Story Ideas?


Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

This by far the most common question I’m asked by readers and other writers.  I’m going to share my little secret. Some of my plot ideas come from news headlines. Here’s my trick:  I don’t click through to the article. Instead, I let my imagination fill in all the details.

Obviously, not all headlines are created equal. Take the following:

First of all, we skim right through celebrity news.

  • “Surprise Proposals Shock Bachelorette”
  • “Octomom Dons Tacky Wedding Gown”
  • “Jennifer Hudson’s White-Hot Ensemble”

 Sorry, even I can’t do anything with these. Moving on to politics:

  • Senate Narrowly Passes First Budget in Four Years
  • Health Insurers Warn that Premiums could Spike

 Yawn. I got nothing.

 Next up:

  • Crude Joke Costs Two People their Jobs”
  • “Fighter Apparently Tried to Fake Own Death”
  • “Shootout in Texas may be Linked to Colo. Deaths”
  • “Manhunt Begins in Coney Island Shootings”
  • “Congolese Warlord Arrives at War Crimes Court Jail”

Jackpot! This is what I’m talking about. Reading any one of these headlines gets my imagination rolling. My brain is already making connections and naming characters.

In fact, there are many occasions when I have a plot hole and I need an event and I go perusing headlines to find just the right one.  Using headlines and actual events to spur my fiction gives my story lines realism. The only caveat: sometimes real events are truly stranger than fiction and critics will call your “real” event “unbelievable.”

6 responses to “Stumped for Story Ideas?

  1. Love this! I’ve heard this suggestion before. Great tip.

  2. This is a great idea. Truth is what they say, that real is stranger than fiction.

  3. This is a great idea. I’ve used this process in the past quite often. I even collect headlines along with some of the more interesting articles.
    Article headlines do trigger story ideas, yet I suggest on occasion that one read the article associated with the headline. I often get ideas from the story as well.
    It’s fun to look through the paper (or even on the Internet) for article titles that trigger the creative juices.
    By the way, the last headlines listed of your blog do generate great story ideas.

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