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  • Writer's pictureYessica Jain

Finding Inspiration for Your Story

All writers know that feeling… when you want to write, and you know you want to write, but you don’t know what to write about. Finding inspiration can feel impossible. It seems like something that needs to be granted to you, but it doesn’t. You can find it all around you if you know where to look.


Plot

  • Prompts: You can find prompts anywhere. Online generators, Instagram accounts, Reddit. People come up with and share amazing and unique prompt ideas all the time (and if you ever come up with one of your own, you should definitely consider sharing it too!). Even if you don’t respond directly to a prompt in a piece of writing, you might find inspiration for a character or a setting in a prompt. You might combine prompts that you like or find a source that you always return to for new prompts. Not all prompts are the same, so if prompts haven’t helped you in the past, you might not be looking for the right types of prompts. Spend some time exploring and finding what works best for you.

  • Reality: Your life may seem boring to you (or not!) but it can make for a great story. Think about your worst days and squash them into a horrible series of events for your character. Or, if you have the self-confidence to do this, turn your problems and concerns into a comedy story. Everything is funny when it happens to someone else. Any story can be an interesting story if it is told well, so take advantage of the story that is your life. It is ready for you to use (and not copyrighted).


Setting

  • Travel: It doesn’t have to be far. If you know what type of location your scene will take place in but don’t know exactly how to describe it or how the setting might affect the plot, going to a similar location could help jog your creativity. A park could serve as inspiration as you try to write a scene in a forest. If you do some additional research, you could imagine your nearest city to be any city in the world. You could take a virtual field trip to major landmarks. And if you don’t know where your story takes place at all, going on a walk can help jog (no pun intended) your creativity.

  • Multimedia: Watch documentaries about the coolest places on Earth if you’re trying to write a fantasy story. Look at photos taken by space observatories if you’re looking for a setting for your sci-fi story. Or just watch a movie in your genre to see how other storytellers interweave your dream setting into their story. Take advantage of the previously created graphics to come up with your own setting.


Characters

  • Reality: See how this is becoming a pattern? While there are a lot of arguments for not making yourself the main character of your own story, nobody would blame you for creating an entire novel out of the people in your life. Using real-world people for your characters may just help you make an incredibly interesting and relatable story. Ask yourself what would happen if, for instance, your best friend met your cousin at the mall and one of them lost their wallet. Think about the possible dynamics between various people you know (even if, and especially if, they don’t know each other in real life). The possibilities are limitless!

  • Character Outlines: The internet is full of character outlines and graphic organizers. While these might not give you many answers, they will raise the right questions. Often, you just need a push in the right direction to create a full-fledged character, and character outlines can give you just that.


Wording

  • Read: No magical solution exists to give you the right words to convey your message. No, a thesaurus doesn’t count (they can actually be quite misleading, and you should avoid using words you learn about for the first time in a thesaurus). To be able to truly write the words you want to write, your subconsciousness needs to be filled with beautiful words and quotes, and the only way to do this is to expose yourself to what people have previously written. Yes, that means you have to read. A reading slump can lead to a writing slump, so the best way to break away from a wall of writers’ block is often to just read.

  • Time: Your first draft doesn’t have to be pretty. If your first draft was pretty, you probably wouldn’t be reading this in the first place. If you know what you want to say but don’t know how to say it, just put something on the page as a placeholder. Write a couple words or draw a picture about what you imagine happening there. Even if you don’t know the right words the first time around, you might figure it out later. Give yourself time, but don’t stall the rest of your story while you wait for the right words to come to you.


So, next time, don’t use lack of inspiration as an excuse to avoid writing. Go outside, meet new people, read a book, and find your next story. Good luck!


How do you find inspiration for your stories? Let me know in the comments!


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