Writing Tips

Finding Story Ideas

I’d like to share some writing tips with you each month. Here is an article with some thoughts on where story ideas might be found which I recently used when visiting another writer’s blog.

One of the most frequent things a writer seems to be asked is “how do you come up with ideas?” For me the answer is likely to be an “oh, I don’t really know, they just pop into my head”.  I do find driving is great for me and my muse, swimming too. Probably that’s because my brain is pretty dormant during these times. Luckily, once I think of something it tends to stay with me, so I don’t have to hurriedly drive onto the shoulder, stop and grab a pen, or even more awkward, have a pen and pad beside the pool.

There are so few themes in romance stories and sometimes it feels a struggle to add something fresh and new to the mix. But finding a unique story isn’t so hard if you are open to the suggestions that abound around you every day. Surfing the net will bring you a gazillion ideas, newspapers and magazines heaps more. Song lyrics, TV programmes, talking with people, all add volume to the possibilities. For example, some years ago I read an article that brought tears to my eyes.  About a high flying business woman, it wasn’t until halfway through the article we learned of her youthful angst which this lady dismissed as irrelevant.  However to me it showed her enormous strength of character and I based Kelsey in ‘TIME TO BURY THE PAST’ on this amazing example. Reading of how she’d survived an abusive relationship, the means she employed to protect her child, miscarrying a second child because of a beating that almost killed her as well, finally running away and hiding for years until she knew her partner had died in a gang related incident. The horror of a young teenager needing to deal with such occurrences stuck with me and I wanted to share that even such horror can lead to a happier life. My most recent release ‘WILDERNESS LIAISON’ sprang into being after a walk down memory lane with my mother. We were chatting about a tramp (hike) we’d done along the HEAPHY TRACK some years ago and suddenly Shal and Jodie were the ones beside the swollen river.

My advice is to be open to everything around you. I’m sure there are stories being written right now with a sports theme. So many exciting/interesting things have happened in London I’m sure some of them will be blended into stories. Perhaps the girl beside herself with happiness at winning a bronze or the one crying despairingly because she’d only managed silver could spark an idea for your heroine. Avoid the Olympics as a setting though, this will date your story. There are many other events which occur every year, use one of them instead if you do decide on a sporting theme.

But what I wanted to share with you is some great advice I recently read. I wish I had taken the name of the person posting it on-line so I could give her credit but unfortunately I didn’t. However I am going to share it anyway because it struck me as being a wonderful way to search for ideas. Every week this writer reads a magazine outside of her area of interest. What a great idea. You only need to visit the magazine section of the supermarket to see how much variety there now is. A city girl, she spoke of reading an article about a woman farmer that had spurned her into writing a story. Perhaps you might never use that particular idea/setting given in an article, but reading it will give you a greater depth of knowledge and understanding of human nature so your time will never be wasted. Maybe it’s not your hero/heroine but a secondary character who might become a karate expert, a heavy metal musician or a scrap booker. A DIY expert, a joiner or a quilter. The prospects are endless. Get off to the library or magazine shop, who knows what exciting ideas might be lurking within covers you’ve never considered opening before. Your next storyline and/or characters might be patiently waiting there.  Good luck and happy hunting.

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