10 February 2012

Story Ideas and Where They Come From (Part 1)

This is probably one of the most hated questions among writers. I hate it. You hate it. We all hate it.

Why do we hate it?

We don't know what to say is the problem. I don't anyways. I mean, I do know where my ideas come from but it isn't linear like that. Blogger created a drawing once that showed a perfect photo of what this looks like (a scrambled mess) on her blog.  Just because a single idea started a story, that doesn't mean it ends there. Ideas are all over the place and most of them just "feel" right to put in a story.

So, how can we ever answer that question?

Well, you know what?

I asked it anyways.

And wow, did I get some responses.  Hence, the reason this is a two-parter.

Without further adieu, here is what the online writing community had to say about where their ideas come from...

Will Weisser said, "All my best ideas come when I am almost asleep in bed, especially if I've stayed up too late. On some nights, I can reach a hypnotic state where I'm sort of half-dreaming, and that's when I tend to get really wild and vivid thoughts that can sometimes be turned into stories.

"If I have a basic plot in place, but I need an idea for a specific scene or character, I will often brainstorm while taking a walk, driving my car, or just standing in the shower. This takes the form of free-association; tossing out every possible permutation I can think of and seeing which one sticks." I'm sure I mumble a lot while doing this and look like a raving lunatic, but it does work.

"The absolute worst thing you can do while trying to generate ideas is staring at a computer screen."

CJBest (from Reddit.com), "I'm a climber/mountaineer. Most of my ideas either come directly from my experience in the mountains, or are influenced by the landscape and its effects on my personal philosophical growth.

"I'm trying to follow the advice, 'Write what you are obsessed with.' The things which obsess me right now are physical challenges and the psychology of self-inflicted pain in the name of sport or discovery."

ThereJKessler (from Reddit.com), "My best ideas always come when I'm in the shower or on the toilet. There must be some mystical property to the bathroom."

IWokeUpWithoutaPillo (from Reddit.com) said, "Video games, other books I read, and a lot just automatically comes to me throughout the day. I am, of course, never near a place to write any of it down though."

Joel Allyn said, "..I have gotten more ideas while in the shower than anywhere else. This, I believe, must have to do with the lack of distraction and allowing your mind to go blank. I personally tend to believe that stories are found things and that they come to us out o the void whole and breathing, even if that void is in our own heads." (Read his short story about it here)

Okay that's just part one! Where do your story ideas come from? Let me know in the comments!


  1. All of my GOOD idea's come from the hot tub! The health club where I work out has one, and in the 10-15 minutes I spend in there I can generate all sorts of great idea's. :)

    1. @DL - Really? Wow! I need to spend more time near the hot tub at my gym then...ha ha! Okay, for me, I get my best ideas when I'm driving around at night, and I'll spot a weird house or something weird about the weather or a weird person....but I don't want to be one of those night people freaks, so I don't do that a lot. :)

  2. Yeh most of my new ideas come from journeying or from an experience.

    Or if I'm trying to sort a scene out already within in a plot I think about it for a long time and all the possible possibilities, until something works and make logical sense.

    People are a great source of idea's too. Just being around them. They could say one word, which makes me think of something and then leads to something abstractly linked - an idea!

  3. For me, story ideas sometimes come from the weirdest places. One story idea came from reading a book that helps kids write better. Their assignment was to write about a lost or found dog. That dog is no longer a part of the finished story. I think finding story ideas is a matter of being open and willing to take risks because you truly never know where a story idea is going to come from.

  4. To be honest, some of my best ideas come through conversing with fellow bloggers though their blogs!

  5. YES! I get most my ideas from dreams, too.

  6. One of my favorite quotes about ideas is by Jonathan Coulton: "I wish I new where ideas came from, because I would go there."

    Dreams and that half-awake state often give me ideas too.


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