What is a story? A story is a narrative form of ideas, fantasy or just imagination from different corners on a paper. It is a way of conveying a message, moral or an act of goodness and generosity in the reader’s mind. Why do we enjoy reading stories? It is the idea of the story that makes us delve deep into it. Imagine a story being like “A character going to the market, purchasing some groceries and coming back home”. Will this plot turn out into a good story without any twist, conflict or an interesting element in it? Not really.
Many people in the world have good creative and language skills to write stories, but only some of them get ideas that can stay in the minds of the readers for long. Writers are often taught how to write their stories, but not how to develop a great story idea. Sometimes, coming up with a story idea is the hardest part about writing fiction. Figuring out what to write about can be frustrating. In this article, I am sharing 5 tips to answer one of the common questions related to writing – “What should I do if I want to write fiction but have no story ideas”?
This tip has been given to us by our beloved award-winning author Anupama Jain. She says that reading is the key to getting story ideas. The way we imagine and delve in the book, meet all its fantastic characters and sway through the words of the book can help us fuel our own imagination to get an amazing idea. The important point we need to keep in mind is that imagination is very important, and reading sparks it.
- Make notes while reading
Don’t always treat a book you read as only literature for pleasure. Sometimes, treat it like a textbook. Grab a pencil and use it whenever you see an interesting term, thrilling plot twist, or something that inspires you and jot it down carefully. This will help you to learn from the book, improve your vocabulary and slowly ideas will start popping in your mind. The science behind this tip is that when you read a book, many things are going on in the story along with the main plot, or sometimes the stories are so big that it may distract you from getting a good idea for a story. Making notes, thus helps us to use the learnings and takeaways in the future.
- Mix and Match
This tip is a kind of an activity in which you will be creating a story idea instead of getting an idea.
Materials required: Pen/pencil and a notebook
Below is a list which you need to fill based on the stories you’ve read or movies you’ve watched as per your liking. The idea is to mix and match characters, settings and other story elements from different stories into one, with of course a unique touch of your own in the storytelling.
For example –
Genre – Fantasy (Charlie and the chocolate factory)
Characters (Protagonist) – Mrs. Trunchbull (Matilda)
Settings – Platform 9 ¾ (Harry potter)
Plot – Taken from the book BETTER WITH BUTTER.
Now compile all the ideas and TADAAA!! Your story idea is ready. This activity is fun and is great for enhancing creative thinking.
- Let Yourself Experience Boredom
What do we do when we feel bored? We either complete all our tasks, watch television or maybe just read a book. Or in some cases, we feel bored because we might have completed all our work or there’s just nothing to do. Our brains prefer a certain level of stimulation. When we feel boredom, our brains tell us that we’re under-stimulated. But what does boredom actually mean? Boredom is a state of sitting idle with no work in hand to do. When our minds wander without external distractions, we might come across a great story idea that needs to be written. Boredom gives the opportunity to enhance our creativity.
- Ship of Theseus Method of Story Development
If you are short of ideas and fully stuck, what can be called as the ‘Ship of Theseus’ method of story development may work for you. It simply requires you to pick an existing story that you know quite well and change different aspects of it, one at a time. Once the original story has changed up to 80%, you have a fresh new story right there! This is usually easier than thinking of something new altogether from scratch. This method is taught to all the kids enrolled for the BTB classes, and it definitely helps in story development.
I would like to end this article by quoting popular author Piyusha Vir. She says, “I have always had a very overactive imagination, much like Ishaan in the film Taare Zameen Par. While I don’t see dragons and butterflies like Ishaan, I do put my imagination to work and combine it with personal experiences and interactions to create the entire story. Of course, reading and observational skills are helpful as source material for new ideas, but when you use it in combination with your imagination (Questions like ‘What if?’ are extremely useful in thinking up alternate realities or outcomes), you can create even more interesting stories. “
// This is a commissioned article penned by 12-year-old Reya Jain from Hyderabad. She has shared her ideas based on her own learnings at BTB as well as comprehensive research. //