Where to Find Story Ideas

As writers, we know that finding a story is one of the most important parts of writing creatively. But, where can you find story ideas? Well, sometimes you can’t simply find them. Sometimes they find you and sometimes you have to dig deep into your imagination and rip the stories out. Here are the best places to find story ideas (or let them find you):

Free Writing

You never know when a great idea will hit you while free writing which is why I love this method. Keep a notebook, (I prefer hardback ones), where you take some time each day to just “free write.” What is free writing?

Free writing is just jotting down anything that comes into your mind. It could be a conversation, a description of a place, a rant you need to let out, a situation – literally anything! Just start writing and see what happens. A great line, story-starter or plot could fall right out of the pen onto the paper. You never know. Give it a try.

News Stories

Ever heard the phrase, “Truth is stranger than fiction”? Well, that’s because, at times, it really is. If you’ve ever read “Gone Girl”, you can see that story was obviously built off of the real life story of Laci Petterson. Gillian Flynn simply put a wild spin a popular news story. This has been done in many other fictional works as well.

Read the news and think of all the “what ifs” in specific news stories. Watch some Investigation Discovery or simply read some news headlines on either your homepage or – you know, an actual print newspaper. An idea could easily be built off of a real life event.

Your Own Life

A lot of character inspirations in particular can come from people who are part of your life. Have you ever noticed a random mannerism that one of your friends or family member has? Why not base a character off of someone you know – or, a mixture of people you know?

Use some of the following journal prompts, from your own life, to seek out story inspiration:

  • When did you feel the most scared?
  • Has anything ever happened to you, (or anyone you know), that can’t be explained?
  • What is a bad situation you, (or someone you know), experienced?
  • Have you ever seen an example of “karma” in real life?

Use significant events from your own life to brainstorm a story idea. You can even use stories that people have told you, (sometimes even REALLY unbelievable stories from acquaintances can be excellent story inspiration).

Use Writing Prompts

The internet is on fire with writing prompts. A simple search on Pinterest will reveal thousands of prompts. This is one of my favorite methods to get a story going if I’ve hit writer’s block. I even have some prompts on this site that you can feel free to use and pin 🙂 .  Here are some of my Writing Prompts.


Start with an idea, or a word and simply expand on it, creating a chart. This can be a great way to formulate new ideas and even to expand on old ones. You can use this free tool  to “mind map” : Use Mind Meister Here. 

Or, just do it on a piece of paper. It’s a great technique.

Revamp Other Ideas

Have you ever read or watched something and thought, “Wow, this would be a lot better if it was done x way?”

Well, you’re not alone. Sometimes you can notice something in a piece of someone else’s work that you are able to draw inspiration from. No, I’m not talking about fan fiction, (even though that’s cool if that’s your thing).

I’m talking about drawing inspiration from another’s work & making it yours, making some aspect of someone else’s idea your own, unique idea.

Observe & Listen

Okay, this isn’t a creepy as it sounds. “People watching” is a technique used by many authors. You simply go to a public place and watch people – NOT IN THE CREEPY WAY. Take note of mannerisms, movements and characteristics of what’s around you. You’d be surprised at what can spark that creative idea you’ve been waiting for.

Art, Music & Media

What is more inspiring than art, music and other creative expressions? Listen to music you normally wouldn’t listen to. Watch something new. Visit an art gallery or do some browsing on Deviant Art, (they have some really badass stuff on there).

Expand on the types of entertainment you take in. Inspiration could be lurking where you would least expect it.

For example, not a huge fan of classical music, but this song, “Night on Bald Mountain”, really gives me some serious inspiration, (especially in the horror genre). Take a listen below:

Sketch, Paint, Be Creative

Just because you’re a writer doesn’t mean you can’t expand your creativity to other projects. Let that creativity out in other ways and find inspiration there. Expand your creativity. Create, create, create! There are lots of options.

Final Thoughts:

There are potential story ideas almost everywhere you look. You just have to be willing to leave that comfort zone, (especially if writer’s block hits). A great piece of advice is to try to create a character that is the opposite of you. You may find that working with a character who is nothing like yourself, is more inspirational than creating main characters that are a lot like you.

Out of the comfort zone is usually where the most magic happens, (for some people). Either way, when it comes to coming up with story ideas – inspiration and ideas are all around you, you just have to be willing to look a little closer.

Do you have any ideas about finding story ideas? Let me know in the comments!

Krissy October is a professional freelance writer, aspiring novelist and knowledge nerd who is dedicated to consistent self-improvement and finding clever ways to solve everyday problems.

1 Comment

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