Do you struggle to find ideas for plots?
For some of us, the problem with writing a book is finding a great idea for a plot. Use these fun suggestions to help you find a story idea that makes you want to write a novel or a short story.
20 Fun Ways To Find An Idea For A Plot
1. Turn Your Favourite Song Into A Book
- List your five favourite songs.
- Download the lyrics. Use a site like A-ZLyrics to find the lyrics.
- Which one would make a great story?
Use it as a starting point for a novel – or as the basis for a novel. Change names and places to avoid being sued for copyright infringement.
2. What If?
Look at reality and turn it on its head. A ‘What If?’ scenario envisions a reality with a critical difference to our own.
- Find a news site. Look at the headlines. Write a list of five ‘What if?’ scenarios based on the headlines.
- Look at pop stars, politicians, neighbours, and colleagues. What is the worst thing that could happen to them?
- Look at trends. Choose three that interest you. Write a ‘What If?’ scenario for each one. Could you turn one of them into a novel?
3. Outrageous Titles
Keep a list of the most out there titles you can think of. When you have 10, choose one that would make an interesting story.
Examples of weird titles that became books:
- Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins
- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
- So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams
Use this: Book Title Generator to get some ideas.
4. The List
Write a list about your childhood with our ‘I remember ABC’ poem method. (You can make it rhyme – or not.) After you’ve completed it, see if you can come up with a synopsis for a story. Create a character who is the opposite sex to you and who lives in another city. Name them, and let them drive the story.
Asking for my mother
Being an outsider
Catching fish with my father
Ditching my little sister
They don’t change. Examples include: abortion, environment, corruption, crime, government incompetence, and the death sentence.
You need to find a character who would live for this issue and one who would die for it. Set them against each other and write the book.
6. Opening lines
Write random, weird, odd opening lines. Keep them. Look at them when you’re serious about writing a book. Or use this opening line generator.
- People trust me with their husbands; they shouldn’t.
- Dear reader, I wish I could tell you that it ends well for you.
- I always wanted to be just like my stepmother.
- Which plot would it suit?
- Which genre would it suit?
- Name the protagonist and the antagonist.
- Write the ending.
7. Steal plots
Plagiarism is the key to originality. Somebody famous once said: ‘Good artists copy; great artists steal.’ We’re not sure who it was, but the statement is true.
There is nothing new under the sun. Great artists and writers look at those who have gone before, take their ideas, rework them, and stamp their own style and authority on it. If they are good enough, their versions seem new.
8. Flip a genre
- Take a western and set it in outer space.
- Take chick lit and make your heroine a detective.
- Take a romance and set it in Narnia.
If you’re interested in something, research it. The findings will suggest stories. Philippa Gregory finds new stories in all the ones she is busy writing. Her research leads to more leads.
10. Use Obsessions
What are people obsessed about? It could be serious or trivial.
They could be obsessed about:
- Getting even.
- Their jobs.
- Leaving town.
- Climate change.
- Their looks.
- The odd noise from the house next door.
It’s always a good idea to create a plot around an obsessed character. It’s easier to motivate them and they are not distracted from their story goals. A good example of this is The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
11. Use Myths
A myth is a traditional story about supernatural beings, ancestors, or heroes. We use myths to explain nature, or to show where a society’s customs, religions, and ideals come from. Myths exist in every culture on Earth.
Click here to find 20 Myths To Use As Writing Prompts
You can write a new myth and turn it into a novel.
12. What I Really Want To Do
What do you want to do? What would you do if you had no obligations or restrictions? Write down a list of five things. Could you turn one of them into a plot?
- Lap dancer
- Motel owner
- Leaflet distributor
This would work well for a short story.
14. The Test Of Time
- Buy a newspaper every day for one week.
- Cut out one article a day.
- Look at them a month later.
- Are there follow ups to the stories?
- Which have stood the test of time?
- Are any of them interesting enough to build a story around?
15. Play A Role-Playing Game (RPG)
The Expanse was a result of an online RPG written one post at a time between a group of about five people. They can be in-person or online.
Who knows, you may come up with a science-fiction or fantasy bestseller?
16. Write A Prologue
We don’t think you should use prologues in your final novel, but this could be the inspiration for a book. Prologues are easier and shorter to write than a book.
Write an inciting moment strong enough to cause a story, as an action-packed prologue.
17. Buy A Pile Of Comic Books
Comic books contain the largest amount of recycled plots in the world. Buy them on Comixology
18. Use The Top 10 Twitter Hashtags
Go to Twitter. Write a premise for a story based on the top trending hashtags. (A premise in fiction is a brief statement that has been revealed in a story, for example: People don’t learn from voting for the same party.)
19. Make A Post On Facebook Asking For Plot Ideas
Ask your friends to make a short list of five plot ideas they would like to read or write about.
20. Use Your Senses
- Look around you. Look up. Look down. Zoom in.
- Listen. Sounds and music creates memories and feelings.
- Touch things. Get a sense of texture and temperature.
- Smell everything. Smell is the most powerful sense to take you back to a place or time.
- Taste things. Take your time chewing. Become aware of textures.
You will find plenty of material for your novels when you do this. You may even find an idea that is so startling, you can use it as a plot.
An Idea Is Only The Beginning
Remember that ideas are only the beginning. After that you need to develop a plot and identify your four main characters. We suggest you read: The Top 10 Tips for Plotting and Finishing a Book to get you started.
© Amanda Patterson
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