The first step to writing any creative piece is generating an interesting and unique concept that can later be expanded into a fully developed plot. It's extremely rare for a story concept to magically manifest while staring at a blank page or Word document, so it's important for writers to have a more reliable means of brainstorming. Here are some common methods:
Free-Write Write whatever comes to mind for 10-15 minutes and see what grabs your attention. Are there any thoughts or ideas in your writing that you want to continue exploring? Note: You may struggle to even come up with material for a free write. In this case, utilize one-word prompts. You can find these online, or you can make your own by selecting a random word from a nearby book, magazine, etc.
Journal Keep a notebook handy throughout the day to record events and interactions that stand out to you. Make observations about the world, your environment, and the people in it. As you read, write down quotes that catch your attention for their beautiful language or inspiring ideas. Look back over your journal frequently to see if there is something you can develop into a story idea.
Draw Ideas from Real Life Look to interesting people in your life or fictionalize alternate scenarios from your own decisions. This is especially helpful if you are struggling to come up with ideas because you're distracted by something going on in your life. If something is consuming your thoughts, perhaps it is time to write about it. If not, try to confront that issue prior to writing.
Start with a Character There is no hard and fast rule that your story idea needs to begin with a plot. If you’re struggling to come up with a concept for your story, try sketching out your protagonist and maybe one or two secondary characters. Think of their personality traits, their values and objectives, and their relationships with one another. What kinds of situations might these characters end up in? Could any of those situations lead to a larger story?
Hopefully, you'll generate multiple ideas at once while brainstorming. After narrowing your focus to one concept, be sure to write down your other ideas for later use. At this point in the process, you should have one general idea that you can begin to flesh out and develop into a story.
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