At the core of any successful story is a great idea. So what makes a great idea? What triggers tension? What moves the plot forward in a satisfying way?
Here are four tips for finding ideas to push your writing forward:
Find a moment of truth. Maybe you have a character floating around in your head. There is a sudden realization that marks a turning point or major change. A pivotal moment where nothing will be the same again. Now, figure out what came before and what will happen after.
Create a shocking twist. You’re writing along, minding your business and suddenly your character up and does something shocking. It is unexpected. It is inevitable. It suddenly changes your story from good to great. If you’re in a stuck place, or just casting about for a story idea, ask “What if” to find your shocking twist.
Find a haunting image. Have you ever seen a painting or photograph that punched you in the chest? Stuck in your mind? We write words to create visual images in readers’ minds, so it’s not surprising that images could spark a story idea or scene. Next time you see something striking, ask yourself why it resonates. Freewrite about it. See what bubbles up.
Write about something weird. I was chatting with a plumber recently who had come to my house to do some work. We got to talking about writing and he said he had done some writing but he was stumped because all of his ideas were “weird.” My response: “And how is that a problem? Weird is good. Go with it.”
For a related post about finding ideas, read Carol’s post Four questions to help you mine your life for story ideas.