Finding Story Ideas
Djuna Shellam The Write OWL Episode 22
Finding story ideas can be perhaps the most difficult task of a writer. Sometimes. For me, fortunately, finding story ideas is the least of my struggles as a writer. Finding the time and that perfect sweet spot is my biggest struggle.
However, even in finding story ideas, my original plans are usually vetoed by my bossy and always right “Muse.” No matter how great I might think a story idea might be, she’ll come along and make it better. I love her.
But, without finding story ideas in the first place, she won’t come to work. I have to do the ground work first. So how do I do that? Well, often, ideas come from my life; rather, my observance of life around me. It might be a news report, a scene in a movie, a story someone has told me, something I’ve overheard in line at the grocery store, a story from my grandmother, or… you get the idea.
Finding story ideas, though, is the very first step of my writing. I’ve been writing a series for many years, so for me, new story ideas are always considered as to how they can be woven into my series. Sometimes, however, I’ll come up with an idea that I know won’t fit into the series and it will go onto the “after the series” pile of ideas. It’s a big pile. I have no idea what will become of those ideas once I begin work on them. Isn’t that exciting?
My current series, The Em Suite, began with an idea that bears little resemblance to what the series is now. Even the third book in the series, Prairie Fire, was supposed to be something entirely different, but when I began writing, my Muse stepped in and guided me to a much better story.
I think the point to finding story ideas is to just start with something, anything, and let the magic of the writing process guide you. I don’t remember offhand who this “quote” is from, but the writer said, essentially, until you actually sit down and start writing, your muse won’t take you seriously and won’t show up to work. From a personal standpoint, I know this is 1000% true.
I have a vlog episode planned on the muse concept, so I’ll leave the subject for now. The bottom line to writing, whether a muse is a factor or not, is that finding story ideas is paramount. How each writer does that is a learning process all its own. My goal with sharing my process is that perhaps I can help another writer solve a problem or get a new idea somewhere along the way.