Writing Step 1: Story Ideas
Written by: Ben Marroquin
Your short story should begin from one idea that can be written and explained within a simple sentence. This idea will be the foundation of your story and/or graphic novel. Here are some examples:
A group of teenagers must survive the night at an old campground.
A kid learns that stealing is wrong.
A teenager finds a powerful robotic suit and must decide what to use it for.
A kid learns that picking Truth is better than Dare.
A kid learns that some names should never be repeated in the dark in front of a mirror.
It is a good idea to come up with 5 story ideas before you begin writing your plot. Right now you may be asking yourself “How am I supposed to come up with my story ideas?” It’s easier than you think. Here are some of the ways I come up with my story ideas:
Dreams: I have strange and vivid dreams. I’m able to recall good sized chunks of these dreams and use them as the source of some of my short stories. Stories like Red Button Eyes, World Builders, and The Janitor’s Keys. The best part about getting your ideas from dreams is that most of the time they are very unique and personal.
Pictures: I love going online and visiting websites that have art and photos created by people from around the world. It nurtures the imagination and allows me to see the world through different eyes, increasing my creativity. I use these pictures to inspire my settings (the locations in which my stories take place) and creature designs. I don’t steal other peoples pictures or creatures which they’ve created (and which are therefore protected by copyrights) but simply use them as inspirations to creating my own. For example, a picture from an artist combined two animals together to make one which inspired me to combine a spider and a rat (which I call a scrat) for a novel I’m currently working on.
Urban Legends: Many of today’s movies can be traced back to urban legends. For instance say candyman or beetlejuice three times and these beings are supposed to appear for the caller. Does this remind you of a very popular urban legend about a woman covered in red named Mary? You can do the same. Take a popular urban legend and make enough changes to make it your own new story. Change the way the creature or cucuy looks, where the story takes place (rural town, urban city, blue desert, within dreams etc…), how to stop it, and so forth and you’ve got yourself a story.
Newspapers: Two Men Caught Stealing Dynamite, Car Crash Kills Driver, Police Raids Club… these are just a few of the headlines that were found in various newspapers, each of which can be used as an idea for a short story. Simply change the names of those involved, the setting, and even the reason behind the “crimes.” Examples: A) Idea: Two Men Caught Stealing Dynamite. Quick Plot: Livestock and people are disappearing from an old rural town. Strange tracks are the only clues as too the mystery. Two men discover strange creatures living in the old mines, rush back to town in the middle of night, and break into the building where dynamite is stored. The local police, warned by the silent alarm, capture the two men and haul them off to jail. B) Idea: Car Crash Kills Driver. Quick Plot: A teenage street racer finds himself in the race of his life; being chased down the rural back roads by a speed demon. Guess he shouldn’t have bet and sworn that he was the fastest driver in the world. C) Idea: Police Raise Clubs. Quick Plot: People have been acting strange, even crazy lately. One of those people, in a moment of clarity, informs the police about the last place he visited, a club. People go in but don’t come out the same. The police raid the strange old dark club that’s shrouded in mystery.
Very Old Fairy Tales: Use one of your favorite old fairy tale as the basis of your story just change the characters, the settings, the time the story takes place in and how the story ends. Why old fairy tales? New stories are protected by copyrights making it illegal to copy. So how long do copyrights last? Generally speaking, for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. It is for this reason that I recommend using old fairy tales and changing them adding your own writing style and personality.