I am perplexed when I hear writers say they run out of inspiration for ideas. Life is equivalent to inspiration. They’re virtually one and the same thing. Open up your eyes, take a quick look around, and then grab something. Anything. Everything.
An interesting exercise to try is with a site like Drudge or your newspaper (if you still get a newspaper–who buys newspapers anymore?). I guarantee that, if you flex your little grey cells, you can write a story based off any story in the news.
Let’s grab some random headlines from today’s news….
Kerry Promises 250 Million In Aid To Egypt
Nice. You could definitely write a bunch of stories based on that: spies, skullduggery, theft of funds, the State Department embroiled in falafel-flavored scandal, maybe some kind of blackmail going on with Kerry involved with a mysterious Egyptian beauty. Heck, you could have his jealous wife putting a contract on his head. This one could be fun. You could go serious or satire or social commentary.
Woman Steals Two Cop Cars During Multi-State Chase
Awesome. What else do you need? This is an excellent starter. Maybe she’s desperate to get somewhere due to a criminal gang having kidnapped her daughter and she has to do something for them before time runs out. Maybe she has a split personality and thinks she’s Bonnie of Bonnie-and-Clyde. Gotta go help Clyde rob a bank. Maybe the cops are crooked and she is trying to get away from them so they can’t kill her.
Qatari Emir Buys Six Greek Islands
Wow. This one has all kinds of potential. Maybe he’s secretly orchestrating a coup of Greece. Maybe he’s an extra-terrestrial and is going to build airfields on the island in preparation for a big alien invasion. Maybe this a weird, Muslim-Mediterannean version of Catcher in the Rye. Maybe he has six favorite wives and he’s going to build little Shangri-Las for each one?
Locust Alert In Middle East
Classic. Shades of old Japanese monster movies. Epidemic! Disaster! Actually, you could even take this in a John Steinbeck direction. The ground stripped bare. The bank coming to collect on the mortgage. Desolation everywhere. The well’s run dry. You’re sick of eating locusts and wild honey. Grim, gritty, bleak.
NYC Leads Jump In Homeless
Homeless people everywhere. A killer stalks the streets, brutally murdering winos and druggies. Or maybe you could write some kind of social justice story. The homeless rise up and all that sort of thing. A homeless Romeo and Juliet story. Homeless vampires in Manhattan. Bloomberg passes a law outlawing fat homeless people or maybe forcing them to eat really healthy food. Might be some nice satires here.
Anyway, don’t let me catch you complaining about not having inspiration. Inspiration is everywhere. The news is an amazing source, refreshed every day with all kinds of crazy and ludicrous prompts. Political news, entertainment news (if you want to go with the super ludicrous prompts), sports news, international news. Seriously, though, you don’t even need the news. We all carry our own histories with us, tucked away in our memories. I have no doubt you can find plenty of story prompts there: old boyfriends and girlfriends, summer camp, church, family squabbles, weddings, deaths, births, neighborhoods, friends from school, hobbies, illnesses.