Really, the first step to writing something, especially in the creative realm, is to come up with an idea. It really perplexes me that some people can't seem to come up with things to write about. To me, generating story ideas is really all about those two little words that writers cling to incessantly: "What if...(insert story idea here)?" It comes down to imagination, to your ability to explore the possibilities or even develop some that aren't plausible within an everyday context (these falling into the fantasy, sci-fi and, often, horror genres). Looking back, I can see that I have, in fact, been exercising my imagination in some form for as long as I can remember, and being a writer is simply an extension of that. Anyway, to keep this post from rambling on too much (lol...), I'll get right to some tips that have helped me develop the 100+ story ideas that I currently have in stock.
-Carry a notebook with you at all times.
It's been my experience that inspiration often strikes at the oddest times, whether you're seconds from falling asleep, in the middle of a project at work or driving at 70 miles per hour (though I don't recommend writing and driving...:)...careful with that). For the last several months, I have been carrying a little black book (not that kind...) with me everywhere I go, and in that time, that book has miraculously begun to fill up with story ideas, song ideas, additional notes for existing stories... you could even write down some inspiring quotes that you come across... (The current Table quote would be a good one to start off your new notebook). Unfettered by the anxiety and self-inflicted pressure that you (or at least I) put on myself during the actual writing process, the best ideas often turn out to be the spontaneous ones. If you don't write them down ASAP, they'll be lost forever. There's no so thing as bad ideas... you never know when something will prove useful. Write it down!
-Read the news.
Likely, you're not going to get a story idea based on the wars in the Middle East or Obama's economic plan, but you'd be surprised at some of the wacky and unique stuff that goes on in the world. In the last week alone, I got two fairly awesome (if I do say so myself...) story ideas just from reading the AOL Welcome page. Keep an eye out for the latest happenings, and you might just find the spark you need to develop your own story idea out of it.
-Speculation is your friend.
As I briefly mentioned in the intro to this post, "what if?" is an unbelievable tool to identify story ideas. Though it can sometimes be a burden, overthinking things too much can sometimes be an advantage (guilty as charged!). Some of my favorite story ideas have derived from my own moments of paranoia, curiosity about what the world and people around me and other musings that would otherwise have been lost amidst the sea of thoughts that swim through my head each day. Remember: even the smallest seedling can turn into an amazing story with a little bit of creative nourishment (I'm speaking from personal experience...).
I'm sure there are many other little tips I could impart to you, but so as to not spend my entire Saturday in front of my computer screen (don't I already do that Monday to Friday!?!), I'm going to leave you with these three, since they are my biggest tools to develop stories. I hope this has been helpful, and if you have some of your own strategies about how to create memorable story ideas, please feel free to share! Every little bit helps... :)
Happy writing y'all....