"Help! I Need Ideas For My Story/Setting/Character!"

How To Get Ideas For Yourself!

Having a hard time coming up with any ideas for your latest creation? Are the only one coming to mind ones that have been done a million times before? Does your creativity just seem completely stuck? Here are some suggestions you can try to get ideas flowing again!

Stop and think about what you've always wanted to see a story about, or wanted to see in a story. Did you ever watch a movie or read a book and wish something would happen that didn't happen? Did you ever stop and think, "You know, it would be neat to see a story about X for once!"? Make a list of the things you've wanted. If you ever find yourself thinking that it would be neat if something happened, or that it's a shame that something never happens, add it to your list.

Think back to when you used to play make-believe as a child. What did you come up with back then? Could you take any of that and polish it up into something you can work with now?

Think about how stories usually go. Now ask yourself what might happen if they didn't. How might a story progress if something that usually happens at a crucial point didn't for one reason or another? How might things go now? What might the characters do about it?

Imagine what could happen if X met Y. Think of at least two story elements or character types you don't usually see together. What might happen if they did?

Get into the habit of asking yourself other hypothetical questions and exploring their possibilities. What if someone like your math teacher had to save the world from an alien invasion? What could happen if puddles could become doorways to other worlds? What might a civilization created by crows be like? Take notes of anything that seems interesting to you.

Do you have a main character, but no real ideas for a plot? If that's the problem, check out What To Do When You Have A Character, But No Plot for help developing ideas.

Grab a deck of cards. Check out How To Generate Ideas With Playing Cards for instructions.

Grab a couple of six-sided dice. And then go to Character Traits To Roll Your 2d6 For.

Check out the random generators. If you're stuck for names, plots, character ideas, setting ideas, and more, the random generators might help you out.

Observe the real world. Pay attention to people and watch how they act and respond to things. Observe how certain kinds of people tend toward certain types of behaviors and responses. If you want to know how to write a certain type of personality, then observe how people with that particular personality tend to behave. Read local news, weird news, and uplifting news. Watch documentaries. Read up on recent scientific and archaeological discoveries. Pay attention to how everything from governments to fast food restaurants to pigeon life cycles work. The more you know about the real world, the better you will be able to construct imaginary ones and the people who live in them.

Hammer out a list of anything and everything that you can think of off the top of your head. Write down a list of everything you can think of that might happen or that might be the case here, no matter how improbable or ridiculous it seems. (In fact, aiming for improbable and ridiculous is a great way to kick your brain out of the box!) Don't put too much thought into them right now, just write them down as they come. Keep on going until something finally sticks out to you.

Find a picture and speculate. What might be going on here? What might have happened beforehand that lead up to this? If there are people in it, what might they be thinking? What might they be about to say? And what else might happen next?

Read, watch, or play something kind of bad, then ask yourself what you would do to make it better. It's a lot easier to think of ways to fix things than to completely invent things from scratch, so asking yourself how you would fix problems in bad media can be a great way to kick your imagination into action!

Read, watch, play, or research something outside your usual areas of interest. Nothing fires up the imagination like something completely new, so go and check something out that isn't among the usual topics or genres you engage in. See something that intrigues you? Make a note about it.

Keep a list of any notion that tickles your fancy, even if you can't use it right now. Then if you find yourself running dry for ideas, you can go back to your list and see if there's anything that might work for you right now.

Consider who your target audience is, and ask yourself what would be likely to resonate with them. What kind of themes, moods, settings, characters, and general tropes are resonating with your target audience right now? Which ones are they showing no positive response over? What are they asking for more of? What are they complaining that they're tired of? By gauging what your target audience wants and doesn't want, you can often hash out a decent list of which ideas and themes you should probably use, as well as some you should probably avoid.

Also, you might be interested in:

"Is This A Good Idea For My Story/Setting/Character?" - How To Answer This For Yourself!
"Help! I'm Worried That My Idea Is Too Cliche!" - What To Do When This Happens
Reasons Your Story Might Be Stuck - And How To Fix It
How To Break Your Creative Blocks
Simple Ways To Brighten Your Life & Exercise Your Imagination
How To Sharpen Your Intuition

Back to Developing, Refining, & Troubleshooting Ideas
Go to a random page!