Have you run out of fresh ideas for stories or articles? Are you hanging from the last knot at the end of your rope? What are you going to do?
There’s an easy answer to that last question. Sometimes it’s not the lack of material out there for a writer to use. It is everywhere. Resetting your mental perspective on ideas could sweep a multitude of viable avenues onto your storyboard.
Hunting for Stories
Find a newspaper or tackle Yahoo! News feeds and see what you can find. Here are ten possible idea sparkers found in less than fifteen minutes.
1. Elizabeth Taylor
2. Japan’s earthquakes
3. Earth’s axis
4. Housing slump
5. Pennies saved
6. Control tower scare
7. Volcano in Africa
8. Skin care for guys
9. Another oil slick hits LA coast
10. Sports themes–Michael Jordan
Have News, Now What?
On the surface these all seem uninteresting. How could any of them spark ideas that haven’t been done to death?
Let’s see what could come of them with a bit of thought expansion.
1. Elizabeth Taylor—everyone talks about her beauty, her film career, etc. On the non-fiction side, experts will comb through everything in her life for their fodder. On the fiction side there is much to think about. Here was a young girl who was beautiful, with violet eyes, who loved to act. She was given that chance and excelled.
But, what could have happened to her without that chance? What could a beautiful young girl, without such talent, experience during her teen years? What if she really preferred a career behind the spotlight—say, as a set designer? Her talent could be in art. Such scenarios abound.
2. Japan’s earthquakes—tons of ideas come from this news. Of course, there’s one aspect that many wouldn’t use. This goes along with #3 in our list. (Underlying info revealed that when the big quake hit Japan, three things happened which explain the destruction. One: the area of the quake dropped the landmass approximately two feet in altitude, two: Japan’s landmass was drawn 6.5 inches closer to the United States, and three: the quake caused an axial shift of the Earth.
Those facts hold significant ideas in their grip. Non-fiction possibilities: what impact may these geological realities warn us about, interviews with relatives of survivors of the quake, how does the Earth’s axis work and why a change is significant, etc. On the fiction side, apocalyptic scenarios flash through the brain along with character driven survivor stories, etc. Lots of ground could be covered from one event.
3. Earth’s axis has been covered above
4. Housing slump—some experts on the economic recovery are now advocating that people not buy homes for a while. Non-fiction—what happens to towns with large amounts of homes for sale? What about Florida, which has a 20% vacancy rate right now? How long is too long for a home to be on the market? And the list goes on. Fiction—anything having to do with someone affected by buying, selling, losing a home and the people involved.
5. Pennies saved—any one save pennies in your household? Have you ever tried to pay a bill with them? One man did and had to go to several branches of his bank to do it because he couldn’t find one with a vault big enough to hold his payment and they wouldn’t accept it.
Did you know that if people cashed in their saved pennies the result would be somewhere over $1 billion back in circulation? Slants on this subject are too numerous to mention.
6. Control tower scare—Washington D.C. Reagan airport had two planes land without instructions or assistance yesterday because no one answered from the tower.an FAA investigation ensued. What could have happened rather than safe landings? What about those in the planes, did they know? Here, too, the resulting questions, ideas and scenarios are many for both fiction and non-fiction.
7. Volcano photos—scientists descend into a live, lava-producing Nyiragongo volcano in the Republic of Congo. This should spark the imagination of any writer. The photos of their mission into liquid fire evoke many questions for both fiction and non-fiction. How well do their special suits protect them from both heat and deadly gases? Do they now understand that little known volcano any better? What dangers did they face that weren’t expected? Interviews with the families of the researchers would be marvelous ideas. Fictional accounts of harrowing events inside such a volcano could create stories for older children and adults.
8. Skin care for guys—Plastic surgery comes into this category, as well. Non-fiction ideas: social stigma of the subject, testimonials from guys (pro and con), doctors take on the subject with recommendations for boys, etc. Fiction could come in children’s stories about a child who has to use special creams for acne, allergies, or what have you and what he must endure in the locker room. It could go SF and be about a world of the future where men are outcast if they don’t have facial treatments and surgery. It takes all kinds of writing to make up magazines.
9. Another oil slick along LA’s Gulf shoreline—sparks ignite the drilling and pollution control debate again after this new slick can to light. There are human interest stories, animal rights issues, ecological issues and questions yet to be answered about oil company responsibilities, etc. Both fiction and non-fiction could go wild again on this topic.
10. Sports themes are always good--So many news items are in this week’s news feeds that a writer can take their pick of odd subjects and run with it. Fictionalize any one of them and have a good story for the young. Or, do an in-depth look at any of the questions that leap out after reading one of the longer articles. Take your pick.
As you can see, there are many avenues to be explored. Science articles always find a home, whether they are for children or adults. Speculation pieces do well on the open market because they force the reader to ask questions. A sports piece is always a winner for most markets, especially when it can be tied to something else.
Angles make the difference in the benefits reaped from anything. It doesn’t matter if you concentrate on fiction or non-fiction as a rule. They are both sides of the same idea, information, or event. The questions asked by the writer dictate the direction taken in words. All the writer must do is use eyes, ears, and mind to find more material than ever thought possible.
I’ll leave you with those thoughts as you slide on over to your favorite news feed to peruse the latest and greatest idea generators. Have a great end to the week.