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Writers tips

8 Ways to Come Up With Ideas When You Have Nothing to Write About

Everyone wants to be the next George R.R. Martin or at least, the best paid writer online. Everyone has talent, but is that enough? How do you cultivate your imagination, how do you come up with new things to write about? Here are a few things that work for us:

1. Read

Great writers are also great readers. Pick up a magazine, a newspaper or a novel and read. While doing so focus on seemingly unimportant details of the story, and think about a plot to create a new scenario.

Many writers take existing books and consider alternative ways to develop the same story.

Change time periods.  Take a plot set in the Victoria Times and make is modern. A great example is Christopher Moore’s novel “The Lamb” where it takes the Bible and assumes a completely different line of events that took place with a comedic twist.

Change the main character of a popular story. Let’s take for example the Da Vinci Code. It follows “symbologist” Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu after a murder in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The protagonist is Robert Langdon. What if the protagonist was Sophie Neveu? How would the story change? Is this an entirely new story?

2. Check out the news

We watch news constantly, so why not utilize the news as a source of inspiration?

When readers find a connection between your story and current events, it is easier for them to create a connection with your content, empathize with your characters, and appreciate your story.

Using newspapers, magazines or news websites will often give you a lot of ideas for new stories. It has been said that many episodes of “Law and Order” were inspired by writers that were watching the news.

Of course in your story, you will be changing up many things to avoid scandalizing real people.

3. Watch a movie

Pick one of your favorite movies and watch it. This time take notes of the main plot points and twists. Now rethink the story but change some major plot points or characters.

For example:

  • Let’s assume that the main protagonist falls in love with a girl who is already married. Change up the story by writing him as the married one, add a few kids and hands-on in- laws and see how the story takes a whole new direction
  • Think of how you would write the same story but tell it backwards.
  • Add a few more characters to the story.
  • Replace a main character with a character from another popular movie.

The above are a few ideas on how to get your creativity going. There are more ways to change up plots, stories and characters! You get to decide.

4. Do research

Pick any subject you are interested in and begin looking into it.

A good example can be something medical that the medical community has not been able to solve yet. Look into it and develop a story with a character who has to fight this disease, while he / she finds how to disease originates and how through the main hero’s journey many people get help and wonderful things happen.

Or it can unravel into a medical espionage story, where the main hero finds out that many babies were given a virus upon birth, in an attempt to create superior beings. Anything is a possibility. Start with research.

5. Go people-watching

Take your computer at a cafe and chose a quiet corner that allows you to watch the entire cafe scene.

Sip your coffee and begin observing people around you.

Some will be chatting, others will be reading a book, or writing. Many will be staring at their phone screens while others will be on dates.

Begin writing down what you observe, the smells, the feel, the atmosphere. Eventually your attention will focus on a few selected characters. Begin developing their past, their ambitions and desires and see where the story takes you.

6. Reinvent a relationship

Think of your life and the many relationships you have experienced.

Some are still around, whereas some as far gone into the past.

Pick one of the long-lost relationships, whether it was a friendship, or a romantic endeavor and tell a new story. One that did not end the way it did.

Not only is it cathartic, it also allows us to understand how to mind the details of daily life.

The smalls things that can make or break a relationship.

7. Focus on plots that solve real problems

Similar to our research suggestion, look at the world and a see the problems that plaguing the society, the environment and generally our society.

Wars, orphans, environmental issues, divorce, depression, famine, the world is unfortunately full of problems waiting to be solved.

Pick your theme, pick your character, pick your setting and start writing. Research as you go, become a real life detective through your own novel. Inspire your readers to want to join the cause and change the world.

8. Talk to people

You can talk to family members, people online, friends or colleagues. We rarely take time to ask fun, intriguing questions.

Ask them a variety of questions and derive inspiration from their lives:

  • If your life was a book, what would the title be?
  • What is your biggest regret?
  • What is one thing you want to accomplish in your life?
  • What is something your mother has taught you? How did she achieve that?
  • What do you believe about life after death and other ‘belief’ based questions.
  • If you could change anything about your past what would it be?

Not only you will be having, real, honest conversations with friends and family, you will also get a lot of ideas on new characters.

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