1. The Backward OX
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    The Backward OX Senior Member

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    Generating story ideas

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by The Backward OX, Dec 29, 2007.

    Probably the best people to read and answer this are those like myself. Old and brain-dead.

    So, how does a grumpy old codger like me go about generating ideas? I’ve been staring into space, my mind blank, for some days. More correctly, I have gazillions of images whirling through my mind but I draw a blank when it comes to making a story out of any of them.
     
  2. pet.
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    pet. Senior Member

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    If you're after plots, I find the best way is to start with a scene. Try picking one of the images in you head (presumably the one that catches you attention best) and spinning it out into a scene - maybe even just a snapshot of a moment. Then consider how this moment was arrived at, and where it seems to be going. Hopefully, in doing this, you will have arrived at some ideas about character, which you can use to further extend the scene both ways.

    In theory, at the end of the scene, you should be able to continue writing. (that's sort of how it works for me, anyway.)

    I hope that helps. Looking back it's probably exactly what you've been trying. It might help to start with theme or message, or some idea about tone or mood. Once you have a strong grasp of what the mood of the story should be, you could think through what kind of character would fit that mood, and maybe continue from there.

    Good luck :)
     
  3. missupernatural
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    missupernatural Member

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    Welcome to my world.

    Okay, at least you have something to begin with.

    Pick out one of these things, and write it down in the centre of a blank piece of paper. Now, around this word, write any words or phrases that come to your head when you read that first word. I'll give you an example:

    Main Word:

    Cat.

    Sub Words and Phrases:

    1 Fur
    2.Tail
    3.Crazy Cat Lady
    4.Meow

    ---

    Now take those new words you've just written down, and pick the one you could expand on.

    ---

    1. Fur
    2.Tail
    3.Crazy Cat Lady
    4.Meow

    ---

    Now just brainstorm words you associate with your second chosen word.

    ---

    CRAZY CAT LADY

    • Old
    • Mentally Unstable
    • Wicked
    • The Simpsons
    • Sits In Rocking Chair
    • Owns a lot of cats.
    • ETC.

    ---

    Now, you probably won't be writing about a crazy cat lady, but the idea is to find those new words (eg: old, mentally unstable and wicked) that may spawn a new character with a story (aka: plot) to tell.

    Final Note: Write EVERYTHING you think of down. Sure, it may have no relevance now, but you never know what it could inspire later on.
     
  4. The Backward OX
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    The Backward OX Senior Member

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    pet & missupernatural, thank you both. Just what I needed to get me out of the rut.
     
  5. missupernatural
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    missupernatural Member

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    You're welcome.

    But honestly, you just have to force those ideas into some form of order.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in the truckload of donies just given to my donation center yesterday, was a nifty little item that can help you and any writer needing a jump-start... it's a little box containing a book and a set of cards... titled 'the observation deck' it's by a gal named naomi eppel and both the book on writing techniques and the cards have tips and little mind-ticklers from the likes of pulitzer prize-winning and best-selling authors, among others... see if you can find it on amazon... i'll bet you can even get it for a buck or two, from their partner suppliers who deal in used and unsold new stuff...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  7. Lawfire
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    Lawfire Member

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    Mr. Stephen King's technique of using a "What if..." works really well for me. Think of a rough character idea or group and then a situation.

    Examples:
    What if a naive college co-ed was tricked into murdering her brother?

    What if a high school football team never made it back from an away game?

    You can come up with some real stinkers and some ideas that are "out there," but you can also get some winners. Flesh them out and you're off to the races.
     
  8. Edward
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    Edward Active Member

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    What if an evil space clown went around eating children?

    What if Cell phones turned people into hive minded zombie mutant things

    What if knights were replaced by cowboys?

    What if it was an evil ****ing room, that somehow never got investigated into even though it would actually give empirical evidence into it's sentience due to the repeatability of an experiment of whether going into said room causes strange things to happen and the occupant to die, thereby standing up to the scientific method?

    Steven King's "What If..."s are rather insane...
     
  9. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also, if you're alright with starting with a theme, go to the Spark Notes website and look up some stories you like (or random ones). They have a decent breakdown, and because themes can be reused time and time again, you can have them as a building block (or inspiration) for your story.
     
  10. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    Didn't expect to see you here, Ox. Figured I'd start browsing this forum again.

    Regardless, on topic. I have an approach some might dislike, due to the lack of planning. I get an idea for a scene, drop some characters into it and just build a story from there.

    The opening paragraph tends to be a brief guideline as to what the story is about, allowing me to return to it as well at a later date and to fill in the rest of the details.

    I have a folder full of 8-9 current ones with one sentence - two paragraphs wrote at the max at the moment.

    Also, like others have said. It helps to have an idea about what you want to convey in the piece. My last one I wanted to deal with love and fear of loss, so I set it in a hospital and put the characters in the necessary situation that could provide what I wanted and just let it flow from there.

    Anyways, like others have said, I recommend just writing a scene out you have in your head. You can always go back to it and improve it at a later time if you're not happy with it. That or just try to work a scene around a particular emotion you want to try and represent in your writing.
     
  11. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    One thing to try is to think of the title first, then go for a story from there. For example, my novel was born partially from a title that I think came to me in a dream (though with the way my mind and sleep habits are, this could have been at ten in the morning)- B-Gas. From there, I was able to figure out several key plot details (what is A-Gas, where is the substance from, what does it do) and overhaul my novel to make stuff make sense.

    Anyway, some titles that deserve exploration:

    One of His Days
    Broken Mold
    Blaze of Shame
    Carved Angels
    Stychomythia (ten points if you know what that means, hint: it has to do with shakespeare)

    Maybe this will help.
     
  12. Bluemouth
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    Bluemouth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Stychomythia is a technique of quickfire dialogue used in Greek and Roman theatre.
     
  13. xion22
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    xion22 New Member

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    you could people watch, i find that helps me out not only with characture development but also plot development
     

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