Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Looking for Story Ideas?

Many of us lead busy lives, and writing, although a priority, shares top billing with other aspects of our lives. When I am writing a novel, getting my work done each day is manageable--once the story is started, I jump on the train each morning and take the ride. But when I am between novels, I try to write short stories. And I always find this more challenging because I am constantly forced to seek new ideas. (Obviously, I have the utmost respect for poets.)

This week, I'd like to offer a writing activity that I use to help me generate ideas and material. It may help you start a story.

I have often said I begin with a character because I believe plot to be a direct result of character. For this activity, I Googled "people in conversation," "people in conflict," and "watching a conversation" to find photos I thought might present interesting fodder for conflict and characters.

Here I have attached three very different photos that offer characters in unique situations. Choose the photo you find most compelling and consider the following questions. Then run with a narrative.

1. Who are these people?
2. What is the relationship between each character?
3. The viewer is dropped into a story seemingly mid-sentence. What is taking place? And what are these conversations about?
4. What is their back-story?
5. What conflicts are present? (For instance, in each photo the respective characters seem to present a unique emotional range. What leads to each reaction?)


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hannah Dennison said...

What a brilliant idea!! I've never thought of that before. I'm teaching a beginners workshop soon. Can I borrow it? I'll make sure to give you the credit. VERY helpful.

John Corrigan said...

Thanks very much, everyone. Glad you like it.

Mystery Writers Unite said...

This was a great post! What a wonderful way to come up with story ideas and intesting character profiles. Becky

Anonymous said...

You just gave me a great idea. The character, when asked to pick three photos from thousands, picks three of whites in elegant dress.