While some of us have more ideas than we know what to do with (something I sometimes suffer from) others (also like me) have to work at getting ideas.

Here are ten ways to get new ideas for stories.

Collect weird news stories and bizarre images

This is basically the idea proposed by Cliff Daigle here. Collect those little nuggets of story potential and then dip into them when looking for inspiration.

You may find some images to get you started right here on this blog. Many of the other tips are really just ways of creating nuggets of ideas but dressed up as other activities.

Taking things without context that intrigue you and building a world around them can lead to all sorts of creative storytelling. Even Stephen King does it.

Eavesdrop on conversations

There is a reason that some writers enjoy taking public transport. It is because you can listen in on the strangest soundbites of conversation. Those nuggets of ideas can be the beginnings of a great idea.

By using your imagination to fill in the missing details you soon have a whole fictional world of characters and questions. That’s called a story.

Read a book you might never pick under any other circumstance

Maybe just reading something new will give you new ideas. It will certainly expand your range of sources to draw from down the road.

You might find it boring. In which case figure out why you are bored and what you could do to change it.

Maybe you think it poorly written. So how could you do it better?

What would happen if you took the general threads of the book you have read and respun them in your prefered genre? That’s a whole new story right there.

Use junk mail as an inspiration

Take any two bits of junk mail. That could be spam email or physical snail mail. Either way, you now have the background and/or occupation of your new protagonist and love interest.

How do these people meet? Do their jobs get in the way of the relationship? How do they resolve things? It sounds like you have the basics of a story already.

Ask weird questions

Remember we talked about collecting nuggets of story ideas. There is nothing better than asking friends and family strange questions to get some more. Maybe you could ask them, what if half the world was taken by aliens – what would you do? Of how would you react if you could tell the future.

Even simple but probing questions like, “have you ever been arrested” or “were you ever offered illegal drugs” my yield anecdotes.

Find a writing prompt you like then run with it

For those that don’t know, writing prompts are little imagination triggers for you to grab and run with. Don’t worry about plot, or acts, or any of that, just tell a story and see where it takes you.

We have a whole section for writing prompts. Even more writing prompts can be found on most social media sites and writing communities.

Invent the history of someone with whom you’ve lost touch

We all have friends from way back when who we do not see any more. Why not use the power of your imagination to invent their history from the last time you saw them until now.

Did they marry? Did they get a good job? What sort of friends do they have now? Are they rich or poor? What are they trying to do these days?

What you have just done is tell a story. Just from the seeds of asking yourself “where might they be now?”

Get really angry

Letting yourself hulk out can be a great way to get writing. Anger is by far the easiest emotion to express. Find something that annoys you and rage out with words on paper. Even if you tone it down later and take out the excess expletives, you may have a very witty and sharp op-ed article.

Watch TV, no really

Sometimes I just have no go juice in my writing bag. If there are no deadlines, I might binge a goofy sci-fi or a terrible movie. Badly written television can be a great way to learn about writing. Just dissecting why the writing is bad can teach you a lot and sometimes give you an idea for how to do it again but better.

For me, at least, some TV of the right genre can set my mind spinning with related ideas. Why didn’t they solve that problem with the thing? How come the melting core didn’t kill them. What would happen if they had access to technology from (insert name of other series)? And so on and so forth.

Sometimes TV, even bad TV, can get the old ideas going.

Recycle a classic in a strange new setting

Imagine if a classic samurai action movie were recycled in space. That’s pretty much how Star Wars was invented. If it is good enough for George Lucus, it is good enough for you too.

What would happen if Macbeth took place in a modern big business firm? Instead of deposing the king, it’s the CEO and his board. Now you have the plot for a modern thriller.

What if you put the three musketeers in a western setting? That sounds a lot like The Magnificent Seven. Okay then, what about in a space opera?

As you can see, this is a trick used by even successful writers. Let’s see what you can come up with.