New Story Ideas — how to find them

Jurassic world is a new story idea from a great concept
Jurassic World is the latest blockbuster stemming from what was a new story idea rooted in genetic cloning.

New Story Techniques

How does one generate new and exciting ideas for one’s stories? Here are some suggestions:

  • Use personal experience to spark new and authentic story ideas. Personal experience helps to add verisimilitude and uniqueness to any piece of creative writing because it is based on first-hand knowledge of real-life situations.
  • Keep a file of blog, newspaper and magazine articles and stories; also, short notes on television documentaries and programs that have caught your eye. Use them to kick-start your thinking on a related subject.
  • Use a notebook or digital device to document interesting bits of conversation, behaviour, dreams, personal encounters.
  • Explore new ideas by brainstorming a subject with friends. Free-associate root aspects of that subject by introducing nouns and verbs not usually associated with it. Note the new relationships that emerge. Those may spark new ways of looking at old ideas.
  • Ask that powerful idea-generating question: ’What if…’. Combine it with an unexpected or opposing idea. If, for example, your subject is about genetic cloning, you could start by asking: What if the DNA of prehistoric animals was found trapped in millions-of-years-old resin and used to bring Jurassic era animals back to life?

“New story ideas are all around us. We just have to know how to spot them.”

  • Mind-map a subject or idea by writing down its core meaning in the middle of a blank page or screen. Create a series of related ideas in bubbles around that core idea and draw links from one to the other. Link unrelated ideas together and see what that sparks.
  • When writing a scene, make it multilayered by filtering it through all five of your senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch. Note the dominate sense operating within the scene, then replay it in your imagination, using a different sense. Note how it changes your approach to writing the scene.

Summary

There are many ways to generate new story ideas. Personal experience, keeping a file, brainstorming with others and asking the what-if question, are just some of them. 

Invitation

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4 thoughts on “New Story Ideas — how to find them

  1. Gerhard Pistorius

    New ideas by their very nature are products of their time. A high concept takes a lot from it’s inspiration from the social political interest and paranoia of the decade within it’s release or publication. In the 50’s you had Flash Gordon and Aliens that dominated television after Roswell New Mexico. In the 60’s you had a world captivated and terrorized by cold war tensions that set the stage for a British super spy that goes by the name of James Bond . What these high concepts have in common is that they are escapist films – But they have one foot in reality that makes the viewer relate to the situation be it based on a fear or wish shaped by political or social opinion.

    The Purge is a film series with a high concept. The films present a near-future dystopian America which celebrates an annual national holiday known as the Purge, in which all crimes, including murder are legal for a 12-hour period. Given the united states current dived on the controversial subject of gun control this idea ( that may seem ridiculous to us in twenty years like the high concepts of the 70’s and 80’s do today) does not seem as far fetched. You can take the same concept and place it in the United Kingdom as your setting in which the story takes place in unrecognizable London , twenty years following a no deal Brexit.

    In short : high concept may equal trash over time but it also serves as a escape from daily life by focusing on one aspect or event that actually happened or one day can actually happen.

    Reply
    1. Stavros Halvatzis Post author

      The thing about high concept, Gerhard, is that it allows the beholder to ‘hold the story in the palm of one’s hand’ — in the words of Steven Spielberg. It is a unique but relatable idea that appeals to a wide audience. It usually involves some high-tech aspect.

      Reply
      1. Gerhard Pistorius

        I understand the the role of high tech. But we cannot ignore the social or political context in which these films were released. We tend to forget that Star Wars was released in 1977. An age with no cell phones or personal computers and in which the internet was years away. Back then any form of above ordinarily technology was considered high tech. We now live in an age of knowledge that is significantly different from the 70’s. The reason why the film was such a success is because of the events surrounding the film. Timing is everything when it comes to pop culture phenomenons. The first Star Wars film was released after the war in Vietnam. Same as with the first Harry Potter movie that was released after 9/11.

        Reply
        1. Stavros Halvatzis

          True, but from the diegesis point of view, my point stands. The success or otherwise of a film depends on so many factors, of which the political and social climate is are two important, but extra extra-diegetic factors.

          Reply

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