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Sometimes an idea for a story just seems to burst into your mind demanding to be written down. When that happens itís a beautiful thing, but what can you do when it doesnít? You canít command an inspiration, but you can sometimes coax one into existence.
Writing fiction, especially if you are shooting for a full length novel, takes a lot of time and energy. Youíre going to have to live with those characters and the world that you create for a very long time so you want to make sure that itís about something you are passionate about. It must be truly meaningful to you, one that you will have fun working with and in the end you will feel proud to have written.
A good place to begin your quest for an idea is to examine your own library. What books or stories have you read that you fell in love with? Iím talking about the ones that you couldnít put down, the ones that youíve re-read several times over, or that influenced you profoundly. Make a list of these books and stories then ask yourself these questions:
What do they have in common?
Are all or most in the same genre?
Do they have the same type character?
Do they have similar plots?
Are they based around themes with lessons to be learned?
This may take some time, itís best not to rush through it. Take some time, jot down plenty of notes, the smallest, most insignificant seeming idea could be extremely important so donít shortchange yourself. Study these notes in earnest, reflect on them, even add more thoughts and observations to them over the next few days. This could possibly turn out to be a very eye opening event for you. You just may learn something about yourself or find out that the things that matter the most are not what you assumed that they would be. You may, in fact, gain a new insight into your true self. Remember, the more honest you can be with yourself, the better writer you will become.
At the very least, after this exercise, you should have a clearer idea of the type of story you want to write or just maybe one of those compelling ideas might have just planted itself inside your mind, solving your problem instantly.
One of the best sources of writing ideas that a writer can draw upon is real life. Just remember, youíre writing a fiction story, not a biography or text book so the first thing youíll need to do is to start making changes. If you donít create a character to replace the real person, they may want to have some control over how you portray them, or you could, in some cases, actually run into legal problems as well. There have also been cases where a writer has run into similar problems with locations too, never mention names unless you are sure that there wonít be a libel problem.
Changing a real life experience into a story also means telling it in a way that will impart some sort of meaning to the reader, either psychological, moral sense or purpose, some significance that will allow them to look back and realize that they got something out of your story.
When you are creating a character for the event in question to happen to, create one for whom the event would be especially disturbing, challenging, embarrassing, galling or otherwise loaded with strong emotions to grab the readers and lock them into the story. Also, ask yourself if itís possible to heighten the emotion of the event, make it more disturbing, embarrassing, frightening, etc, without harming the believability.
You want the story to only resemble life, not copy it. When people read a fiction story they are wanting a safe way to experience something that they either wouldnít want to actually live through or feel that they will never have an opportunity to experience.
When you use a real life experience as the basis of a story, it should only be based on the actual event, youíre not reporting the evening news. By the time you get through creating your characters, changing or inventing the location as well as altering many of the facts surrounding the event, it shouldnít even be recognizable by the real people that the actual event happened to. A fiction story is an entertainment media, not a news media.
If all else fails and you just canít seem to cultivate an idea for a story, there is a way to jump start the process. Start reading plot summaries for existing stories; books, movies, television shows, until you find one that you think that you can tell from a new perspective. Some people may think this would be cheating but a hundred different writers can write a hundred different stories, all using the same basic plot summary and each one be a wholly unique tale. If you do use this method, remember that although you want a popular type plot, you want to make sure that youíre not using one that has been totally worn out.
Copyright 2010 by Timothy C. Everhart, author of Tianna Logan and the Salem Academy for Witchcraft, found at: http://www.tiannalogan.com/ and at: http://www.pdbookstore.com/.