How To Find Workable Story Ideas

How To Find Workable Story Ideas


Writers Write creates writing resources and shares writing tips. In this post, we discuss how to find workable story ideas.

How To Find Workable Story Ideas

Where is your Idea Store?

Mine is easy. It’s a fat paperback with tatty edges and scribbled notes on just about every page. I found it a few years back in a dusty second-hand bookshop. Now the Video Movie Guide-1987 is a permanent part of my bookshelf.

Not because I want to know what films were hot in the late 1980s, but because this book has thumbnails of over 4 000 movies that are story ideas just waiting to be reinvented in the imagination.

Paging through this tome, I jot down notes in the narrow margins. I think, what would these storylines look like today?

  1. What about a story focused on a family wedding? Lots of potential for conflict there. Here’s a film about coming-of-age in a pivotal summer? Those never go out of style.
  2. Another is a tale about success and heartache—there’s another timeless idea ready to spring to life on the page with fresh characters.
  3. Here’s a horror film about a soul-sucking demon in a big city. Could you turn this into a political or social allegory?
  4. A sci-fi B movie tells of a scientist who has found a way to move through walls and objects. How would that play out in comedy setting?

The ideas, as you can tell, are limitless.

Source for comic

Find A Connection

Sometimes the plot outline will inspire a new idea for a story or novel. Other times you’ll recognise a certain character—the feisty woman in a man’s world, the reckless adventurer—and this will inspire the lead in your own story. You will always find a connection.

What I like about the Video Movie Guide book is sheer volume of ideas—it’s like a roulette wheel of basic plots, a big bingo game of character ideas. No way could anyone watch thousands of movies in an afternoon—but you can skim through the highlights and see if anything grabs you. And then use it in your own story with a fresh plot and new characters.

TIP: For an online resource, try All Movie or IMDB sites.

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course.

 by Anthony Ehlers

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This article has 3 comments

  1. JeromeK

    My notebook, or rather, ‘notebooks’, are my store. They are about a metre high and represent only the last twelve, faithful years of dedicated writing, of journaling, observations, notes on conversations, Morning Pages – recommended by Julia Cameron’s book THE RIGHT TO WRITE as well as my Open University courses on Creative Writing – phrases and sentences from newspapers, books and poems, scribbles done in front of pictures in art galleries and more. I once saw a large picture, a photograph by Gregory Crewdson, in a gallery, a car at a crossroads; mysterious, haunting, almost eager to tell me it’s backstory. Inspirational and a plot only evident as it got written.

  2. Mia Botha

    Idea Store – I love that.

  3. Anthony Ehlers

    Morning pages are a great way to get in touch with what you really want to write about, Jerome. Thanks for the comment.

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