Where to find story ideas

female hand handwriting in a notebook

Handwriting is a satisfying way of writing a story

Have you ever read a story and thought that it was amazing and that you could never do that? 

Generating story ideas acts a little like a muscle – the more you use it, the easier it gets. Actively looking for story ideas can help you to generate more.

You want to begin writing stories – how do you get started?

Our world is full of stories and there are many ways to start writing one. Here are a few ideas:

Prompt websites – these are a really good way to generate story ideas. You can search for story prompts in your favourite search engine. Many contain a long list of prompts, some of which you may jot down to use as story ideas. No matter how many people use a particular prompt, the stories will not be the same. We bring to story writing our own unique experiences which influence the types of stories that we write.

Take part in a challenge – There are websites that run story writing challenges, including:

StoryaDay writing challenge. Receive a story writing prompt every day of May or September (same challenge run twice) and you can post your story if you wish. There is help in drafting and outlining stories and daily email prompts. This challenge is a very good way to get the creative juices flowing.

Deadlines for writers – runs several challenges, including monthly challenges for short stories and poetry and a weekly challenge to write a novel in 52 scenes. Well worth checking out. Some costs involved with some of the challenges.

Reedsy offer weekly prompts to your inbox and a story writing competition with a cash prize. They usually offer a long list of prompts.

Taking part in a challenge is a good way to start writing stories. Challenges offer the chance to have your work read and encourage writing every day. This helps to build habit and encourages the brain to create more.

Taking a course

There are many different courses available, both online and in-person.

A local library may offer creative writing courses or a course more specific, aimed at poetry or writing memoirs. It is also worth looking at adult education classes.

In-person classes offer the chance to read your work aloud and to listen to others’ work. Sometimes you may have homework to do, which may involve writing a story to a prompt or with a particular theme. Creative writing classes offer a chance to make friends and meet people with similar interests. It also gives you a chance to read your work out loud and have other people say what they think about it. It will help you learn your weak points. It is nerve-wracking at first, but a good tutor will create a welcoming atmosphere, enabling students to gain confidence reading out their own work.

It does not usually cost a lot to attend a local community college course.

You may decide to buy one of many online courses. It is best to buy from a big provider such as Udemy or to look for reviews of the courses before you buy. Some course creators offer money back guarantees and this can help guide you to a reputable provider. Always check the reviews and see what other people have said about the course. Avoid any courses that are vague about the syllabus they offer.

More ways to find stories

Newspaper or news headlines can spark interesting stories. Some famous novels were inspired by a newspaper headline, including Anne of Green Gables. The story you write does not have to be about the story behind the headline.

Competition prompts or themes give you the chance to enter a competition and give you an idea to start a story. Some competitions are free to enter while others require payment. Some offer critiques for a small fee. Competitions can be prestigious or small, run by local writing groups. When entering a competition, always read the terms and conditions and follow the instructions. Search for story competitions and there are several websites that collate and list them.

In short, there are lots of ways to find stories. Many involve you noticing people and situations and allowing your brain to spark an idea. The more stories you write, the more ideas will come to you. You can write stories for any purpose: to entertain, for family or for you.

Human capacity for stories is limitless and enabling your creative side will bring both joy and satisfaction.

What events have you found that sparked a story idea? It is a good idea to keep a notebook with you at all times to note ideas down for future use.

Share any unusual ways that you have found stories, in the comments.

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