Some people are natural born storytellers. A knock on the door is an inspiration for them. Others cannot find stories no matter how hard they look. To keep inspiration flowing I’ve tried all these techniques at some time or the other.
Reverse Engineer Good Plots already Out There
‘Under the Dome’’ – what is this about? The shutter on one community? The experiment? Man, tested under immense pressure? An apocalyptic theory? Whatever it is, the idea started somewhere. It does not matter where, but if you sit and think about where it came from you’ll probably come up with something yourself. That is your idea for your story.
Solve an Existing Crime or Mystery
‘Gone Girl’ comes to mind. It starts where the Lacey Peterson case started and then it takes off on an imaginary trail that enthralls. Sometimes we can become investigators, but only for the sake of our stories. Look for missing people. Follow the last known lead, and construct your own theories.
Answer Philosophical Questions
Examine an ideology, debate a prevalent practice like communism or democracy, take apart existentialism or just start your own cult! A religious cult. A science cult. I think H.G. Wells started a Time-travel cult.
Love the Seemingly Unlovable; Like that Broccoli Soup
A drastic measure that will do wonders for you. Well, not broccoli literally but characters you’d never imagine getting into, like that cousin who never calls, or the bully you don’t want to acknowledge still exists. This can be both liberating and redeeming. You’ll see yourself growing as a writer and be ready to take on other unsavory characters from the world at large. You may already have been writing about them but now they’ll just come alive. Not all of us are obvious victims, like the kidnapped or the raped, but we all hurt in different ways – sometimes secretly. Just admitting it alone can do wonders.
Attempt Political Caricatures
Drama is all about exaggeration. Extended a portrait into the realm of bizarre and beyond. Picture that cartoon caricature in your head, the one with an enlarged head or belly. Predict the future. Attempt a coup or an uprising. Be as paranoid as possible and let the world become as rattled as you are with the results. You’ll be using words. Only words. George Orwell’s 1984 is a great example.
Inspiration in Dealing with the Hard Stuff
talk to that monkey on your shoulder and the teddy bear in your closet. I think psychological thrillers are born this way. “The Girl On The Train’ – is just dealing with a person’s insecurities spying a happy couple on his/her way to work! Or I may be employing the technique detailed above under ‘a’. ‘Monsters Inc.’ is literally that.
Rip Apart your Favorite Movies/Sitcoms
pretend you don’t like them for a bit and answer why. Or do the other thing. We all do it – criticize shows that the world at large loves. I’ll admit I don’t get ‘The Game of Thrones’. I don’t get why it is that popular. I don’t even watch it. There is a market out there for people like me who’ll watch that other show that is like the ‘Game of Thrones’, but not quite. There are always shows you’ll watch and wonder why. You think you can do a better job. You are rewriting everything in your head. So maybe you can. Maybe there is a very good story there that needs your unique style. ‘The Leftovers’ was first a book and then a TV Series and then many books and many dramas… Another example is ‘Twilight’.
Inspiration If All Else Fails
write about how your parents failed you. They’ll put up with anything. – Writer’s block and how family members suffer because of it should be a separate book.
Romance the Hell out of that Secret Crush
You’ll never get there so just write that romance at least! It is a secret for a reason. It can still be your own secret. No one will know, and you’d have achieved materialization in some way. This could be every Harlequin and/or Mills and Boons.
Inspiration via Current Events and Animals
A technique used by comedians, appears in late-night show monologues – especially used widely in places where making fun of politicians is taboo. Who is the lion? Who is the rat? Fables weren’t just written in historic times.
Reversing Real Stuff
Like ‘a’ again but with actual events. The opposite of anything. “Two people on death row escaped, only to be caught and sent back or killed while on the run.” There are so many ways to work back from that story! Ideas are everywhere.
Inspiration via Fairy Tales
Modern-day take on fairy tales. This is so simple, and yet so effective. I love all those stories that have already been retold, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk …
Inspiration using Idioms
Write a story around an Idiom or an adage, but make sure you hide the idiom itself. Show, don’t tell.
The teachers who’ve created very useful ‘creative writing’ courses know a thing or two. Writing prompts are always freely available.
Take everything far, far out there; find your inspiration and inspire. That is a good story. Finally, anything you do, any book or story you decide to expand, make sure you color way, way outside the box. Your box is yours. You might still be within the limits of your reader’s boxes. In fact, you might fit right in there. The stories writers tell are usually just in the writers’ heads. The same story is received differently by each reader. A prime example of this is “Life of Pi”.