how to come up with story ideas for a novel (9 tips that really work)
Updated: Sep 15, 2020
Writing a book isn’t an easy job. Coming with a book idea is the first stage of the process and it too isn’t easy. Sometimes we can just sit around for days and come up with nothing. Most people talk about how book ideas strike them at the most random moments. And that’s great. But we can’t always sit around waiting for an idea to strike. Now there is no magic formulae in coming up with ideas. But there are a few thing which can help in boosting you creativity. But before we get Started check out my post on how to expand on your story idea. This is for you if you have one small idea but it seems to be going nowhere. Let’s get started.
This is something I have heard a lot. But it’s a great tip. The more you read, the more ideas you get. It isn’t copying. Its figuring out what you like. You may like dark fantasy novels or sci-fi. It can help you with more than the genre, you might like kidnappings or forbidden love. Whatever it is it’s an idea. Its somewhere to start. But just remember that you shouldn’t copy ideas from anyone else and don’t substitute reading novels with research. That fight scene you really love, yeah don’t copy it. Firstly your novel might need a completely different scene and do I even need to say why it’s wrong yo copy another persons work? So use reading only for Inspiration and if you do want to use reading for research, make sure you’ve got your facts right.
There are tons of websites which help you generate your own prompts, you can also find prompts on pinterest and other places. Get on one of these sites and browse. Your idea doesn’t have to be the same as these prompts, you can improvise. The best part is you can also use these prompts for your own stories exactly as they are. but If you just need that initial push then these are great for you. You’ll also find writing prompts on Pinterest or Instagram and in a lot of other people. Look around and see what works for you.
Take a walk
Going out for a while can help clear your mind and think better. When I first tried to come up with an idea for my book I holed myself in my room and tried to think. Not surprisingly enough, that didn’t work. Of course going out right now is a little more complicated so go to your balcony for a while. Do whatever it is that helps you think and relaxes you. writing a story is supposed to be fun! shocking isn’t it? I need to remind myself this very often. Of course you want to write a good story but your doing this because you love it. No one forced you to. So stop stressing out and give yourself a break. The time I took away from my room during the brainstorming process actually helped me come up with better ideas. and I wasn’t tired. If I continued to lick myself in my room I don’t think I would have been able to get past the brainstorming process. Do what it takes to make it fun.
I love listening to music and listening to your favourite music can help spark an idea. Create a playlist of songs that inspire you. Listen to different kinds of music. Music which fits your genre is great but it can be anything. Some songs just seem to fit the vibe Of your book or it’s so inspiring and listening to the song makes you want to write. That’s awesome put It on the playlist. You can also share this playlist for your book on social media or on your website or just keep it to yourself. This step not only helps you while you brainstorm but it will also help you while you draft your novel. And you can also do this with tv shows and movies and even books. You can make a list of them which are in your genre and watch them when you feel stuck. Sometimes the stories are super different from yours but you just need it for inspiration. please don’t copy them. If you like a plot point don’t Just write it into your on story.
Decide a theme and genre for your book. That may seem obvious but you’d be surprised by the number of people who don’t know this yet. Find something that inspires you and make sure that this is something you can write about. Looking at quotes can help. Find some to save in a pinterst board or you can have a journal or note a few of your favorite ones down. There are so many quotes out there that can summarize your story. You can also make a Pinterest board full of your favourite quotes. I made a note on my notepad and made a list of all my favourite themes. I then picked out my favourite one to be the overarching one. You can use all of the themes you come up with too. Just don’t overdo it.
Grab a piece of paper and write
A lot of ideas you jot down will probably be bad, but that doesn’t matter. Just go on. Keep doing this until you find an idea your passionate about. Something you can see yourself writing. Don’t worry when every idea seems to be bad. I’ll let you in on a little secret, all those crappy ideas are not as bad as you think they are. Honestly they are probably good. But this is something we all have to go through. So when you think you come up with a bad idea don’t just throw it away. This could be the idea that works for you. Summarise you’re favourite fantasy novel in one line and think about how crazy it sounds. Mine usually are a bunch of teenagers save them world. But this is so awesome isn’t it? you can have a really great idea and not do justice to it. your idea does not have to be unique or something that’s never been done before. Let’s face it a lot of ideas have been done before. So don’t overthink it.
Pay attention during mundane tasks and conversations. You never know when inspiration might strike. You might get an idea from something your friends are talking about. Whatever it is don’t hole yourself in your room and frustrate yourself a lot. Maybe your having this conversation with your friend and boom you have an idea. That can totally happen. We are writers after all there are new ideas for a story everywhere. You just have to learn to pay attention to what happens around you. Most importantly stop stressing yourself. There is so much more left in the writing journey and it's gonna stress you out a lot. Take it easy.
I love Pinterest and I will probably talk about this a lot. But it’s amazing if you have your stories moods or themes in mind. Make a Pinterest board. you can also type in your genre’s name and then the word aesthetics. That way even if you don’t have a particular theme in mind you can make your Pinterest board. Do you have any colour which you think fits your book‘s theme? You can go make that Pinterest board now. But don’t get carried away with this because Pinterest is distracting. Set a timer and find awesome pins and when your done close the app. seriously it’s super addicting and easy to get sucked into.
Pinterest also lets you create sections for your board which means you can create a section for each of your characters. Awesome isn’t it. You can include what kind of outfits they wear, they’re favorite food, favorite colours and so much more. And if you don‘t want everyone to see your board you can create a secret board. I know it’s awesome. But again don’t let it distract you.
Make sure your comfortable with your story
During your brainstorming, you might come up with one awesome story idea. But here’s the thing it may not be the idea for you. Some awesome ideas might not be something your ready for. If your writing your first novel, it’s okay if you can’t write a three hundred thousand word novel. The writing process is very difficult and has its ups and downs but one thing you have to be comfortable with is your story. If it seems awkward to you then you won’t be able to do your best and the reader will most certainly not enjoy it. And if there’s some idea which seems hard you can do tons of research but some ideas are there which you might not be as comfortable with. And that is totally okay.
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