Monday, April 18, 2011

OK, the picture attracted you, right? I mean, who wants to find gold nuggets when you can have chocolate nuggets?!

Let's pretend that story inspirations are chocolate nuggets, because we really, really want them! (I know, I know, but we're writers--we have big imaginations!) So, where can we start digging for story inspirations? Where do we start looking for the next book idea? Here are 5 tips to help you start your hunt:

1. Read voraciously. I'm sure many of you already do this, but the more you read, the more you learn. If you read a lot of fiction, then you'll be surrounded by more creativity and perhaps be able to better recognize a story idea when you find one. And my roommate reminded me last night of the usefulness of history books for finding story ideas. There's so much literary "land" available for mining!

2. Study hard. As a college student, I'm taking so many interesting classes, especially the literature classes. For example, I've taken Irish Literature, 19th Century American Literature, Minority Authors, and Literature of Love; and I'm currently taking 19th-20th Century English Literature and Literature of the American West. Definitely a lot of story ideas within the backgrounds and inspiration to be found in such classes as these!

But even if you're not in high school or college at the moment, you can always take a couple of classes at the community college or just take some workshops at conferences, etc. In today's "information age," there are plenty of opportunities for learning!

3. Go fishing. Or something like that. Just go on vacation or a little day trip, and you'll be surprised by how much a change of scenery/pace will cause you to see different perspectives and perhaps think more creatively. And if you go to a place that could serve as a good setting for a book, so much the better! Just be sure to bring a little pocket notebook along in your purse or bag so that you can jot down ideas on the go.

4. Talk to people. There are so many amazing stories out there! And if you're in a place where you're doing research for your book, you can get so many ideas from the people who live there or work there. It's often the little tidbits/facts that make for an intriguing and unique story.

5. Be open to inspiration. I realize this is vague, but let me give you an example. I recently had to do an assignment for my Nature & Structure of the English Language class--a word study of 10 different words, including place names, phrases, etc. One of the place names I chose turned up some interesting information that has inspired me in my brainstorming of my second manuscript. (I don't really want to share specifics at this point, but you get the idea: even a homework assignment can yield some "treasure!")

So what are you waiting for? Pick up your shovels and start looking for those "chocolate nuggets"--they're not as rare as you might think! ;) Happy hunting!

(Picture is of a yummy candy shop in Nevada, near Carson City, I believe. Love the honeycomb chocolate!)


  1. Earlier I had written at the end, "Pick up your pitchforks and shovels"--so glad I caught that! LOL I'm *sure* pitchforks would be super helpful in digging for buried treasure...


  2. Well, I just wrote a long post and it got eaten by my browser!

    Good job, Amber. A great starting place is a history book. It doesn't have to be a school history book, any book with a focus on a historical event/s will yield lots of great "what if" questions. Have a pen handy!

  3. Sandra M.,

    Not fun! I'm sorry about that. :(

    Thank you for the encouragement, though, and yes--there is so much inspiration to be found in history!! :)



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