As a writer, I’m always on the lookout for story ideas. I have notebooks jam packed with words, phrases, and random notes that one day, may or may not turn into stories.
Even so, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I have a million and one story ideas ready to follow up at a moment’s notice. It takes more than just a word or a scribbled note for a great story idea to spark.
Early on, I used to worry about ‘the next big idea’ and where it would come from. I’d flick through the pages of my notebooks trying to conjure up stories from the jottings within, often coming up blank. That was until I heard the question…
I’ve heard many authors give this advice when asked about where to get ideas from. And I’ve read and listened to many authors speak about how the idea for their latest book unfolded from simply asking the question…
Although we think of most of our days as boring and mundane, if we take even the simplest of encounters and pose the question what if…? it can produce some interesting ideas.
You hear a news story on the radio, ask yourself what if…? You bump into someone in the supermarket that you haven’t seen for years; what if…? You’re listening to a podcast on a specific topic… what if? Whether it’s a chance encounter during your day, or a loose idea that’s floating around in the back of your mind. Think of the what if…?
For example: your’re running late for the train and accidentally end up on the wrong platform and wrong train without realising. Ask yourself, what if…? What if you met an interesting stranger on the train? What if you ended up in at the end of the line and had to get off in a strange suburb? What if there was a terror threat on the train and it was stopped? What happens next?
From this one random, (very random!) example, we have three story ideas. Whether or not they can flower into something worth writing about is another thing, but this one little question makes it possible.
One little question to spark your curiosity and imagination.
One little question that could be your next book.
So, next time you’re struggling for ideas, try the what if method, and see what you can come up with. And keep filling those notebooks with ideas! I will – any excuse to buy a new notebook!
Where do you get ideas for your stories or blog posts?
Have you tried the ‘What if…?’ method?