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Finding Ideas for Your Next Best Selling Novel

A good question and the morning paper is all it may take to bring your writing career out of a slump and onto the best sellers list. These two simple tips can help stimulate your creative mind and lead you toward ideas for a new novel.

At the next scheduled author event, one excited fan will stand and undoubtedly pose one simple question. How do you come up with your ideas? From an author’s point of view, it is a fair and good question that you wish you could answer with some simple statements like, “they just come to me. I saw the idea in a dream. It’s based off of something that happened to me.”

Occasionally, an idea can come to you just as easily as these statements imply, but there are times in the life of a writer when the ideas seem to linger just beyond the limits of mental reach. The next time this impervious wall keeps you from sitting down to another writing session take a moment to consider these two simple tips.

What if?

There are countless books in the publishing world that can be summed up by a simple “what if” question. What if a boy learned on his eleventh birthday that he was a wizard? What if the Holy Grail was something other than the cup of Christ? What if an orphan learned that years earlier his father had made a breakthrough technological discovery?

There is an endless list of “what if” circumstances or possibilities in this world for you to choose from, and the fascinated imagination of a writer can summon a question to mind in an instant. The “what if” question may seem silly, shallow, too big, or too small at first, but kick it around in your mind before you dismiss it and move on to another. Ask yourself what characters could be involved in this circumstance, what setting could it take place in, where could it fit a story, and where could it go from there.

As you begin to ask yourself questions about your own “what if” questions, you may just find that you are mentally outlining your next novel and busting down the block wall that was holding you back.

Check the News

Everyday something is happening around the world, in the country, or even in your hometown that can spark an idea for a good novel. A simple search on an internet news page provides stories of a plotted attack on a teacher, a court ordered halt of an execution, and the discovery of ancient jewelry.

There is a bit of truth in every work of fiction. You may find a story that could lead you to writing a true crime novel, but you may also find that the story in the news headline may not be enough to carry a reader through four hundred pages of text.

What the story will do is provide your imagination with another good workout. Work the story around for a while and see where it could fit into a new novel. Ask yourself if the terrible antagonists in your fictitious worlds could be providing the same headlines as your newspaper or if your protagonist could have been awarded the medal described on page A2.

Follow these two tips and you may once again find yourself back at your keyboard deep into the twists of your new novel.

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2 Responses to “Finding Ideas for Your Next Best Selling Novel”
  • Joan Cannon
    April 8th, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Simple so often seems best when offering advice. This article is. The trouble may be that not everyone has sufficient background or knowledge to make the best use of the best ideas. Which leads to another article perhaps? How does a wannabe with a tiny budget manage to get what the story needs?

    Thank the gods that be for the Internet! Remember the days of hunting the card catalogs and spending travel time and hours shuffling volumes, hoping for good pictures? Iim not big on plot lines, lack inspiration most of the time, and have found most of my ideas either from the news, or by embroidering stories about people I actually have known.

  • megan
    July 23rd, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    tell me if you think this would be a good plot. if a boy or girl wishes on their birthday to become something like a wizard or whatever and the next day he wakes up to have found that is wish cam true? would that b corny?

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