World Building Lesson 3 – How to Get Ideas

Hello Writers!

Happy Sunday to you!

There is really no ‘right’ way to come up with story ideas and concepts. Sometimes a story idea will come to you when you’re reading something. As long as you’re not copying the work of another writer, it’s perfectly ok to get inspiration and ideas from the works of others. Other times, you could have an idea just come to you from out of the blue while you’re doing something completely unrelated to reading or writing!

Picture By: Domas

Picture By: Domas

For example, my Chosen series all stemmed from a prompted short story I wrote over a decade ago that I never did anything with. In the short story, the main character, Marcellus, was involved in a trial of some kind and he was hiding in some bushes that had thorns. Marcellus was dripping blood on the ground and that’s how he was discovered by the Master conducting the trial.

That story struck me and it stewed in the back of my mind for years. That scene, where Marcellus hid behind the thorny bushes, trying to control his breathing, his heart pounding, it was one that stayed with me until I knew it would be a book. In book one of the Chosen series, Time Chosen, Marcellus does go through a trial and hide behind a thorny bush.

My Chosen series has been the work of many years. I have planned and outlined, written and edited, draw maps, done character creation exercises and so much more to make a world. As I worked through these exercises, a world emerged. One where I could write more than one book. A series was born in my mind. As I worked on that series, another region of my world emerged and suddenly I had two book series planned. These ideas expanded until I had 8 series planned of 5 books each and a slew of short stories planned.

All of this came from one scene in a short story I wrote over a decade ago!

Story ideas are everywhere. I carry a notebook and pen everywhere I go. I jot down things that seem terrible or things full of beauty. Conversations and people, scenes and places; all of these could find their way into my notebook and maybe even into a story a month from now, or years from now.

The good news is ideas for stories are all around you. People watching can give you some great material for creating a character, for fleshing out a character, or even creating a character sketch. Why is that woman alone? Is she waiting for someone? Who could she be waiting for? Why is she wearing a red flower in her hair? Is she meeting a blind date? Maybe she’s a spy! What mission is she on? Start asking questions about everything you see and soon a story will appear where there wasn’t one before.

Look back at some old stories or poems you may have written. Seek out pieces that are intriguing or especially good and ask yourself if you can expand it to make a longer piece, a novella or even a novel. Ask questions about the piece to help you expand it. Use writing prompts to get your ideas flowing. There are some affiliate links to writing prompt books that I like below.

Do you have a good source of ideas? Let me know in the comments below!

Here’s an affiliate link that helps me keep this page going, thanks for your support:

The Writer’s Lab: A Place to Experiment with Fiction

The Daily Writer (free if you have a Kindle Unlimited subscription)

Happy Writing!

~ Eileen

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