Story ideas just sometime pop into my brain as a situation. Others come along as an interesting character in need of a story. Sometimes you can put the two together and get a story. Other times the character doesn’t like the situation and refuses to play. Sometimes, one story just grows out of another, a spin off, if you like. I have one in the works that is like that.
The Feline Freedom League that I post to this blog as monthly episodes (look for some changes there in 2012) grew from the idle thought that my cats, Pica and Trouble were trying to kill me. Yes, Pica and Trouble are real cats. I doubt that they are really secret agents, though. It is just fun to play with that thought. Luna and Storm, the agents who arrived to spend almost a full year with us, are also real cats. All the cats in the Feline Freedom League are real cats, even Special Agent Princess of FCIS. Some of the incidents they report really happened; I just looked at it from a cat’s point of view. That’s what you have to do when you write a story. You have to look at things from another point of view.
When you write about aliens, you really have to stretch your imagination to see a point of view that is not human. That’s tough, but not impossible. One of the things I like to do is to look at what’s going on in the world and try to imagine what a visitor from another solar system would think about our behavior. Would it think we were clever and worth contacting? Or would it deem us as dangerous and watch us for any signs that we might break out of this system. Or possibly even destroy us before we got the chance to destroy them. There’s three story ideas right there.
Another method I use to create a story is to play the what-if game. What if the UFO enthusiasts are right and aliens are watching us? What are they thinking? Again, there are many story ideas. Perhaps they are bored with watching us. After all, from a stellar point of view, we really aren’t doing much that would be entertaining or even interesting. Maybe they are so busy arguing over why they are stuck watching this miserable rock with its miserable primitive inhabitants that they miss the space telescope that sees them.
Maybe we do make it out of this solar system and go to a world that seemed uninhabited only to find inhabitants. That’s been done before, of course, but there are still possibilities there. You just have to tease out the ones that haven’t been used yet, or much.
Another thing you can do is to just sit down, pick a topic, set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and write down every word related to that topic that comes to your mind before the timer goes off. The point is, it doesn’t matter what you do to get a story idea, it only matters that you go out and get one, if one doesn’t pop into your head. The methods I mentioned here are only a small portion of what you can do. They work for me, but they might not work for you. Find out what you need to do and then do it. Get an idea and run with it. It might just be the next best seller.