Story Ideas and Where to Find Them

“I would love to write a book. I know I have one in me, but I don’t know what I would write about.” I heard this when friends learned that I wrote a book and it comes up when I’m introduced to a new friend who asks me what I do for a living. Could this be you? Are you dreaming of writing a book, but don’t yet have an idea, a storyline or a clue what you’d write about?

First of all, congratulations! How exciting. Writing is a great job and if you’re dreaming of quitting your day job to write full-time, even better. That was my long-time dream, as well and with a few personal sacrifices, learning to live with less $$ and being disciplined, it worked. Seven years later, I’m still blogging, writing and my first book, a historical fiction novel, A Decent Woman, will be published Summer 2014.

Writing a book takes perseverance, tenacity, courage, a good dose of insanity, a boatload of coffee, and a good idea for a story. Still no idea? Here are some ideas for stories that I have come up that you may like:

Write about what you know.

Think about your hobby or passion in life. If you love photography, could you write about a photographer who witnesses a murder? An artist who buys a painting at a flea market and gets thrown into an international crime ring because the painting is stolen? Do you have love letters from your Swedish grandparents that would make a great romance story?

These days, many books are written from the point of view of a famous artist or writer’s maid, wife or younger sibling. This is my personal favorite, a different perspective on a famous artist or writer.

Scour the newspapers and local papers for interesting storylines.

There are endless possibilities here. The lottery winner who was murdered or committed suicide (this happens a lot). The kidnapping of a child and the reunion with her parents. You get the idea.

Engage in people-watching in public places.

Imagine the story of the woman sitting alone in the cafe or the story of the young woman and older man who has made her cry. The man who comes to your favorite coffee shop with his laptop open and never writes a word.

Look to your hometown or adopted city for ideas.

Is there a haunted building or home in your town that would make a great setting for a paranormal story or a thriller? Your story could come out of that location.

Listen and learn from your elders.

My historical fiction novel, A Decent Woman, started as a tribute to my maternal grandmother for her 90th birthday. There is much to learn from our elders and people who’ve been on this planet much longer than us. Visit with them and take notes. I believe this is a nice thing to do whether you write or not. They love talking and miss talking to friendly, warm people.

And, if you want to write books, short stories, poetry, fiction, or non-fiction…

READ. Read books and learn from the masters. Take a course or workshop in creative writing. Join a writing group and a writing critique group in your area. The library is a great place to find such groups and sites such as That is where I found the two writing groups that I’m a member of.

Just two days ago, something so totally unexpected and completely shocking happened on my quiet street. Right across the street from me. I took photos because I was flabbergasted and yes, it made the news. But, I can’t tell you about that because I’m saving that for a story 🙂

Happy writing to you.