Getting Story Ideas

November 1st is the beginning of NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month. It’s an interesting challenge: can you write a 50,000 word novel in a month? For some people, the hardest part of the challenge is to write those 50,000 words. For others, such as myself, the problem is: how to find a story idea?

Question Marks

This isn’t a problem faced by novelists alone. No, it’s a problem faced by journalists too. For most newsrooms, every day new story ideas are needed, and the more someone can come up with, the more likely they’ll be out doing the interesting, important reporting. So the question begs: where can you find ideas?

There are a lot of resources out there; a simple Google search wields over 7 million results. The funny thing lies in that a majority of them say pretty much the same thing: The world around you.

A novelist, a journalist, or even just an academic writer will never be able to find story ideas if they walk around the world blindfolded. On the other hand, the alert, wide-eyed one will be able to find story ideas in just about everything. Behind the cut are a few suggestions from the Google search… so get out there and find some ideas!

4. Eavesdrop on conversations. Listen up when you’re in the cafeteria, the bookstore, the student union and other places students gather. What are people talking about on campus? from The Student Newspaper Blog

17. Consumer products. Current products represent life today. If you’re writing contemporary stories or articles, people want to read about things they know or use. Even the back of a cereal box can start you off. from The Writing World

Read the classifieds. Weird things pop up. from Poynter University

Got any other good suggestions of places to look for story ideas? I posted three kind of weird ones, so do you have any others?

— Greg Martin

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