First things first, there is no special place where one goes to get ideas. There isn't a Diagon Alley for authors to shop around in 'Crime Thriller' shops or 'Romance' boutiques to find that perfect idea in the right shape, size and colour and for the right price. That's rubbish. In fact, I don't even think a lot of us even know where we get them, I can't place all of mine and I have loads of possible stories that probably won't ever get used (you don't know though, do you?).
Stories live in everything and everyone. Stephen King lovingly said in his 'On Writing' book that stories are fossils that the author has to unearth (mind you, he said it a lot better than I did) and its true. One solitary thought can snowball a novel, maybe a sequel or perhaps even a series. Look at Harry Potter. J.K Rowling discovered the Harry Potter stories along a train trip from Manchester to London. Who'd have thought it?
I can't say for everyone how it works, only myself. Some of us find inspiration sitting on the throne, some in the shower or maybe even walking (the last one certainly for me). I came up with a short story while I was inside a Primark changing room. In the instance of the book I'm editing, 'When it Rains, California Pours', I got the story idea from a spattering of scenes I'd like to write such as a teenage girl kicking off a street race with two flares in her hands, some kind of scene at a music festival and so on. In fact, it was while playing the Xbox game, 'Forza Horizon' I found the story for my book. And I'm writing all of this with a smile, good times with the game and with the book and still good times editing it.
I guess that's kind of why I get a bit annoyed when someone says to me that they can never think of ideas. I might sound a bit snobbish but ideas really are everywhere. Maybe lets not call them so much as ideas rather opportunities perhaps or a load of 'maybes' floating around in the atmosphere. To be plain, this is just how it looks to me. Ideas are wonderful, obviously. Nothing quite beats the initial excitement of uncovering something new (even if the world has seen it before) and if that excitement hangs around with you well after its birthday then I'd say its safe to say that you have found something quite extraordinary and I'd do whatever I can to keep it alive. I've only ever written one story I've felt that way about and its what's I'm editing. I wouldn't suggest how to summon ideas, that's up to you. What I will do instead is list a few things that might be worth considering.
- Read! This one is a must for any writer. Reading and writing go hand in hand, if you're not reading, you're not writing and the same works in reverse. If you read in the same genre as your idea then those 'Eureka!' moments may happen. There's always something to learn from reading and always something to discover.
- Keep a notepad beside your bed. You'd be surprised how often you find something while trying to switch off.
- Keep a notepad on you when you go outside. Well, for this I'm speaking personally because I can't leave home without my bag (which is probably a bad thing) but its saved my bacon more than once. I prefer to use the pen and paper for notes than anything digital. Whatever works for you.
- Record your ideas. If one doesn't work out then don't say 'that one's done forever' because it isn't. Who knows, when you come back to it some other time it may work. Maybe by then you'd have found out why it hadn't worked and the next time around it'll click.