Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Great Fiction Idea Machine: 3 Methods to Inspire Creativity

Hey all! J. Scott Sharp, the Minion-Bee here again!

Although most people think that writers have a tsunami of story ideas assaulting their minds all of the time, the truth is that sometimes those ideas dry up. A writers mind can, often, be as arid as a desert. Many days, I have struggled to find the idea that I want to spend a considerable amount of time with. We just aren't idea machines. Sure we get good ideas for stories...but truth is, we get a ton of stinkers too.

As a writer, it helps me ( and I need all the help I can get) to have a plan...a develop tons of ideas in one sitting. It helps to have developed my own Great Fiction Idea Machine. Now I have notebooks full of ideas...some good...some bad...some, it just isn't the right time.

I know that some of you aren't writers, but you should try these three fiction idea methods anyway. They will help you to be more creative...and they're fun! And we all need more fun in our lives. At least I do.

1) Starts:  

 This is one of my favs!

I love to generate ideas this way because it allows me to do whatever I want. The method here is to spend a half hour to an hour writing down the most creative, exciting, mysterious opening lines that you can come up with. Don't think about it. Write down the things that make you get excited to write. If you are excited to write the line, chances are good you will be excited to write the story too. And then your reader will get excited to read your story. Win/win. Something for everyone.

2) What's in a...title?

So, come up with as many story titles as you can in a half hour to an hour.

I once came up with 30 titles in one sitting.

One way you can do this is to a pick a book off your shelf. Take the first line from the book and use it to come up with titles. For instance, the first line from "Praying for Sleep" by Jeffrey Deaver is "Like a cradle, the hearse rocked him gently." Right off the bat, I can think of some titles:

The Cradle and the Hearse
The Cradle Rocks
Rocking Him Gently
The Hearse

I'm not saying any of these are good, but I could get down with  The Hearse, just sayin'

You can get titles from quotations, poetry, mixing the titles of other books, picking two words from a thesaurus and trying to make them into titles, even the Bible has been a source for many book titles. I used this method to come up with my story "Cold-blooded"  Once you have the title, just try to come up with the story that goes with it.

3) The Finish Line

Come up with a unique, never-before-seen, exciting ending to your story. I did this formy upcoming novella, "The List of Five." I wanted my ending to be dramatic, harrowing and poignant. I tried to do an ending that not too many people have experienced with a betrayal that would make my readers feel it with the character.

You can do this too.

Think up an ending you've always wanted to read and then write it, then develop the rest of the story on how your characters got there.

These are my methods. What are yours? What do you guys do to prime the writing pump. What is your Great Fiction Idea Machine? I do love to hear what other writers are doing!

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