Or…Tips on where to find ideas for writing your next book
Are you a writer struggling to come up with the next unique story or series? Or an aspiring writing trying to come up with her first book idea. I think when your right brain, or creative side, kicks into gear, the creative energy and imagination flows. Some may call it the writer’s muse. But how do you get your right brain to focus when you need it to?
I’m equally amazed by the imagination writers have, and often wonder myself where they come up with ideas for so many clever stories.
These creative people shouldn’t surprise me since I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and I’ve been published in fiction since 2004. Ideas truly come anywhere and at any time to writers.
Here are a few tips that might help, along with some examples, if you are a writer struggling to come up with the next best-selling book, or at least the next book you’re dying to write.
Tips for Finding Your Muse:
- Slow down and be aware of your surroundings. Writers tend to notice details that the average person doesn’t. They’ll notice a person who is dressed unusually, something that looks out of place, a strange sign, a fine detail of a beautiful scene that others didn’t see, a subtle detail in a movie that foreshadows an upcoming event, subtext in a book, overhear a piece of conversation, notice an animal about to cut across the road, smell fresh cut grass or the scent of a fire.
- Read tons and tons of books in and out of your genre. This is probably the best tip for finding ideas. Not only for coming up with book ideas, but for understanding how stories come together and are plotted out, and good writing.
- Travel to new locations for story ideas. You don’t have to travel to far off places to come up with story ideas. While jogging in the cemetery at the end of my street, I came up with a connecting story for my current vampire series. Vacations or day trips can help kick in that right brain for idea for settings or atmospheres.
- If you’re a visual learner, try viewing photos or movies for ideas. I do tend to be a visual learner. I can search various picture on Instagram or Pinterest and come up with some ideas. One book idea came to me while standing in line for a Disney ride. I saw a fantasy picture on the wall and a story instantly started running through my mind. The book became a futuristic/dystopian novel. It’s out of print now, but I hope to publish it again soon.
- Brainstorm with other authors. My writers’ group gets together in the summer for a plotting pool party. We each get a turn to talk about a book we may be having problems with, or share the spark of an idea for a new story. The other writers will toss out ideas for possible plot points which gives lots of ideas. Sometimes you can brainstorm with non-writer people. I was talking with my husband about coming up with a new book idea. I wanted it to be sexy and intense. I was having dinner out with hubby and he said: How about ‘Bondage in the Whitehouse.’ That one line stirred up ideas for a series with Red Tape and Red Tape Protector. They’re a romantic suspense series with BDSM elements.
- Writers Brainstorm Kit or other GMC Method. Sometimes I’ll use a book The Writer’s Brain Storming Kit by Pam McCutcheon and Michael Waite. It might not be in print anymore. But there are others like it. This system had cards too. You can begin by focusing on a character’s personality traits, goals, motivations, conflicts. Then think about what type of situation you’d like to place this character. Make it a situation where the character has to make difficult choices.
- Dream and meditate. It’s hard to be creative when daily life invades your thoughts. Day job and family demands, household chores, email, etc. Sitting in a quiet place and shutting off the external and internal ‘noise’ may help kick you muse awake. Jot down unusual dreams or thoughts. Perhaps they’ll lead to a story down the road.
- Change of scenery. Similar to traveling, sometimes taking a walk, going for a hike and getting out in nature, going to a museum or library, shopping, going to a restaurant, exercise. Talk or interview people with unusual jobs. Some ideas come while showering, cooking doing other creative projects.
- Listen to music. Calming the mind, hearing the words of a song or just the music can spark ideas.
- Or just start writing. Pick a scene, a character and start asking questions: Where am I? Who is this character? Why is he/she here? What do they what? What is their problem? What if….?
Do you have any special methods for coming up with a book idea?