Figuring out WHAT to write can often be the toughest part of writing fiction. The blank page staring back at us is no help, neither is our brain or creativity. When you’re in this tough spot here are 7 different methods to find a story idea.

#1 Write down ANY possible story ideas ✍

This is something I ALWAYS do. Whenever I have an idea (vague or concrete, it can be developed later!) I’ll write it down on a specific document (with all my other ideas) so I don’t forget. Then when I come to my laptop and want to write something new, all my ideas will already be in one place! 

You may be thinking “Well the entire idea of this blog post is that I don’t HAVE an idea”, but doing this in the future will make sure you always have something to write about! 

Pro Tip 💡 – If you’re on the go write down your story idea on your phone (or even a napkin!) and transfer them later! Don’t count on your brain to remember the idea. I know I’ve forgotten SO MANY ideas because I didn’t write them down. 

#2 Write down your ✨DREAMS✨ (and your nightmares)

Sometimes the scenes of our dreams and nightmares can be really interesting! I’ve recently started to write down my dreams (the interesting ones at least) with my story ideas and they’re certainly different! (in a good way 😉) 

What’s great about writing your dreams as story ideas is that they are so unique! They’re usually based on you, your memories and your life and it’s very unlikely that there is a dream quite like yours. (And even if there is, the way you develop that dream and write it down will be unique!) 

My Experience: When I write down my dreams, they’re often much more detailed than my story ideas and they’re about a paragraph whereas a regular story idea (for me) is about a sentence. They also usually don’t make as much sense when they’re written down as when I’m sleeping, but that’s what story idea development is for!

#3 Look Around 👀

The neighbours left just now, Where are they going? A garage sale today, What are they selling? A rabbit without a tail, What’s its story? Take a walk, Look outside, What will you find?

Taking some time away from your laptop or notebook can really help you get inspiration. You can even just look around your room. Maybe there’s a lamp that came with your apartment, why was it left there? Looking at your surroundings is such a big help when you’re stuck trying to find a story idea!

#4 Think of Your Own Life 💭

Was there an event/situation you could have handled differently? An interesting stranger you walked past? A childhood friend you’re no longer in contact with?

Something I LOVE about writing is that YOU control the story, unlike real life with so many other factors in play. Thinking about your own life is also great if you want to write a realistic story! 

Pro Tip 💡 – Remember that YOU control the story! If you’re using an experience as a story idea, you can change a lot of the factors of the story. For example, the main character doesn’t have to be you!

#5 Don’t Think of a Story Idea 🤯

I know this sounds strange. “How can you find a story idea without thinking of a story idea?” What this means is that you don’t have to think of the story plot, but you can think of other parts like the characters, the theme, the genre or the setting! 

My Experience: My favourite way of using this tip is to think of a title. Especially if you’re considering writing a story that could turn into a novel, think of a title that stands out. A title that sounds so interesting you’d pick the book off the shelf to read the blurb. I know a lot of people would rather pick the title after they’ve outlined or even written the story, However, having a working title for my story makes it feel more complete as I’m writing. I’ll often change the title anyway, but A LOT of my story ideas (especially my best ones) have come from thinking of the title first. 

#6 Seek Inspiration 🎨

This is probably one of the most common methods of finding a story idea. Try listening to music or looking at artwork because these often have stories behind them and use your creativity to find those stories. 

You can also seek inspiration by reading other stories or watching movies, but you should be careful because there’s a line between inspiration and plagiarism that you shouldn’t cross. 

Pro Tip 💡 – You can always get inspired by looking through old stories that YOU’VE written. Especially if you’ve been writing for a long time (like me!), you may have old stories you can rewrite after more practice!

Via. Reedsy Plot Generator

#7 Use Writing Prompts 🗒

If you’ve used ALL the tips above and still can’t find a story idea, I recommend using writing prompts. My favourites are randomly generated prompts like these (but simple ones from prompt lists are okay too):

Which method(s) of finding a story idea are YOU going to use? Let me know how they worked in the comments below! 😊