16 Ways to Come Up With Story Ideas

Coming up with new story ideas can be hard. If you’re a writer, sometimes it feels like you’ll never have another good idea in your life. Like the thing you’re currently working on has used up the last of your creative energy. But fear not!

If you’re struggling to find inspiration for your next novel, or your next short story, or maybe even your next blog post, I’ve come up with 16 things you can do to spark your imagination. You got this!

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1. Read.

A lot. Not only does it give you time to relax and escape, but the more you read, the more you subconsciously pick up on things like how to write snappy dialogue, what a good description looks like, and how to keep your readers hooked.

2. Connect with other writers.

Finding a network of writers is super important. Whether that be online or in real life, these can be really great places for getting encouragement, receiving support, and sharing your work around and receiving feedback.

3. Watch movies / TV shows.

It’s not a waste of time, trust me! Like reading, watching movies and shows allows you to listen to what good dialogue sounds like, and gives you the chance to pick up on the importance of things like the three act structure and beats to a story.

4. Try out new podcasts.

Listening to conversations on new topics, or even immersing yourself in a fiction podcast, again helps broaden your imagination. For example, listening to Myths and Legends might give you a story idea for a myth, or listening to Start with This might encourage you to start that book you’ve been trying to write. 

5. Watch something on YouTube you wouldn’t normally watch.

Don’t just stick to booktube, even though I love seeing what other people are reading. Branch out! Watch something on Sci Show. Check out Buzzfeed Unsolved. YouTube is often seen as ‘the place to procrastinate’, but it can also help spark your imagination and give you new ways of seeing things.

6. Listen in on conversations.

Whether you’re at work, at a cafe, or even out for a walk, listening to parts of conversations can be fascinating. It might give you an idea for a story, or at the very least, again allows you to figure out how to write realistic and genuine dialogue. It’s not creepy if you’re a writer, trust me.

7. Immerse yourself in art.

One of my favourite things to do is go to art galleries. They’re a quiet place to be alone with your own thoughts, take in some interesting works of art, and be surrounded by people who are there for exactly the same reasons as you are. Seeing something might even spark an idea for a new story.

8. Go for a walk.

Walks are the best way to clear your head. Whether you’re trying to work through a plot hole, or if you’re coming up with a new story idea, giving yourself the space to think is really important. Take a step away from your laptop for half an hour and step out into the sun. It’ll make you feel 100x more refreshed when you do sit down to smash out your WIP.

9. People-watch.

Some of the greatest character ideas I’ve had have come from people I’ve seen on the street. People are weird. Why’s that guy got a pocket watch around his neck? What type of life does that person with the wild blue curly hair have? It’s so easy to come up with backstories for these people and throw them into your own fictional worlds.

10. Scroll through Pinterest.

Looking at different images can really spark your imagination. Sometimes you need to scroll through photos of castle ruins for fifteen minutes to get yourself thinking about what could have happened there. What if there was a dragon who broke free? What would that story look like?

11. Daydream.

I daydream at work a lot. Sometimes staring off into space provides the perfect opportunity for me to think about magical worlds and come up with new story ideas. Even making the time to lie in bed before you fall asleep just to think is really beneficial.

12. Question things.

Ask yourself, ‘What if?’. What if wifi became sentient and could live inside our bodies? What if elevators were portals to other worlds? These questions could very well be the start of a new story idea, and investigating the answers to them could be very exciting. 

13. Take the longer route.

If you walk the same way to work every day, try a different path. Go down a different street. It might take a few minutes longer, but you might see something you’ve never seen before or discover something new about your neighbourhood. It’s all part of allowing your imagination to wander.

14. Try a new hobby.

Sometimes my best story ideas come out of trying something new. Give ice skating a go! Try sailing! Every new experience will give you something you can write about.

15. Go somewhere you’ve never been before.

One of my biggest passions in life is travelling, and I always find that when I’m in a new place, my brain comes alive with story ideas. Whether you can only spare half a day to wander around a new neighbourhood, or take a couple of weeks off to visit a new country, each new destination is filled with inspiration. So go out and find some!

16. Do something that scares you.

Trying new things can be a scary thing. Trust me, I’ve been there. Even though it might be terrifying to go out of your comfort zone, it can be so beneficial in helping you realise how you process different emotions, and it might even give you some content for a story.

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What are some of the best ways you come up with new story ideas? Do you use any of these methods? Are you writing anything at the moment? I’d love to know!

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12 thoughts on “16 Ways to Come Up With Story Ideas

  1. Great list! I use pinterest a lot for setting and character ideas. Some of the artwork on pinterest is incredibly inspiring. Also, reading other books is brilliant for new ideas, or even to see how someone else explored an idea/theme you want to explore in your own writing.

  2. Awesome list:) Another thing that I do when I need inspiration is declutter my workspace or my room. At times I find stuff that I didn’t remember of at all and go through the process of imagining the parts of my past that have gone missing.

  3. I love this so much! Going for walks always, always, always helps my brain start moving and work up new ideas. I sometimes watch movies/TV shows or read books that are in the same genre/vibe that I’m trying to settle in, too, and while it’s a bit distracting, it usually helps!

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