A person sitting on a bench reading "IDEAS" magainze. Did I mention they have a disco ball for a head?
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Where can you look to find ideas and inspiration for your next novel?

The short answer is that you can find inspiration and ideas anywhere. All you need to do is look around.

But if you’re looking around and not seeing anything, you might need some practice. Because once you start seeing ideas everywhere, you won’t be able to stop.

Here are some easy ways you can start getting writing ideas & inspiration.

#1) What If

Think about what would happen if something else happened. You can put two ideas together, or just add “what if” to the end of any situation.

What if can be used in conjunction with many of these other places to find inspiration.

A quick what if example. I’m looking out my window and I see someone crossing the street…

  • what if they get hit by a car?
  • what if they’re on the run from something?
  • what if they stop a car, shoot the driver, and steal the car?
  • what if…?

#2) Writing Websites

Writing websites are full of inspiration (including this one). Most writing sites will have tons of inspiring images, phrases, prompts, and ideas. Check out these great sites:

  • Herded Words: You’re already here but there are a ton more resources you can check out here.
  • Barely Bookish: more focused on reading than writing, but it’s a great site. Check it out!
  • Become a Writer Today: focuses heavily on non-fiction writing (but there’s no reason you can’t get inspired from that).
  • Books & Alchemy: a great site with tons of valuable tips and resources for writers.
  • Just Writerly Things: dedicated to helping writers create stories.

#3) Books, Movies & Other Stories

There are many ways to use existing stories as inspiration. 

  • Is there a line you love? Imagine other situations where it could be used and write one (or more).
  • Favorite character? Change something fundamental about them and write a new story.
  • Examine great stories and study how they use different writing techniques.
  • Ask what if? What if aliens arrived? What if the protagonist was a different gender? What if <ANYTHING>?

#4) Observe Real Life

Take a notebook and go sit somewhere (park, mall, coffee shop, etc).

  • Listen to people. Write down interesting things you hear. Those phrases and conversations can become stories.
  • Watch people. What are they doing? Why? Use your imagination and write their stories.
  • Ask what if? What if there was an earthquake? What if two people ran into each other? What if <ANYTHING>?

#5) Reddit (or Other Forums)

I don’t mean r/writingprompts (although that is a great resource). I mean any post or subreddit.

Here’s a post from r/amitheasshole:

Find ideas on Reddit: A picture of content from r/amitheasshole

I deliberately cut this post off before the end. Why? Because now you can write any story about what happens next.

  • Does the divorce proceed, husband remarry, and she kills the new wife?
  • Does she fake wanting kids to get her husband back but continues using birth control?
  • Maybe they get back together, have a kid, then the husband abandons them.

The ideas are endless. Let’s check out another post. This one is from r/funny

Find ideas on reddit: a picture of 3 kids dressed as T-Rex's for halloween

This was a video, but the screenshot is enough to inspire!

  • Children are turning into dinosaurs!
  • Dinosaurs never went extinct, they shrunk to housepet size. So, we keep them as pets.
  • They were robbed by the T-Rex bandits.

It’s not just posts that can inspire stories, read the comments for even more inspiration. This time let’s look at a comment from a post in r/cursedcomments

Find ideas on reddit: a picture of a comment from r/cursed comments

Inspiration? How about

  • Make up the real-life story of how someone accidentally fucked their sister.

I could go on and on with potential stories from Reddit. Don’t forget to try asking “What if?” as well. What’s your story going to be?

#6) Music

Every song/poem was written by a person. They may (or may not) have meaning behind them or be their own mini-stories. But they’re typically pretty short. Choose a poem, a song, a few lines from one, or a title and base a story around it. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Tragic Kingdom (by No Doubt):
    • The story of a kingdom that fell to ruins after the king gambled away their resources.
    • The story of a kingdom with no women.
  • Mama, just killed a man (from Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen)
    • Who? Why? Where?
    • Remove the comma and tell the story as “Mama just killed a man.”

#7) Quotes

Famous people (both real and fictional) say interesting things sometimes. They can be inspiring, frightening, sarcastic, funny, and more. Use their quotes as inspiration to tell a story.

  • Write a page (or more) of dialogue using the quote.
  • Reverse the quote and write a story using it.
    • For example, “I have a dream” by Martin Luther King Jr becomes “I have no dreams”
  • Ask what if? What if someone else had said it? What secret meaning could there be? What if they didn’t mean it?
  • Write the story behind the quote.
A staircase with "All Ideas Grow Out of Other Ideas" painted on the steps

#8) History

Rewrite history. Add, remove or change characters. Add, remove or change events. Change the setting, the year, the technology. Find an event or passage and alter it in whatever way your imagination takes you.

For example:

  • At one point, the makers of Pepsi had the 6th largest military in the world. (source)
    • What if they’d kept it?
    • Is Pepsi secretly ruling the world?
    • What if all militaries were run by corporations because governments don’t exist?
  • About 100 years ago, a literal flood of molasses killed 21 people in Boston. (source)
    • The Boston Marathon is a little different. Every year, Boston floods the streets in molasses before the Marathon. Participants must run in the sticky mess.
    • Molasses and all sugars were banned after the flood. What’s the world like now?

#9) The News

Check your local news or favorite news source. Don’t have one? Again, I’ll direct you to Reddit.

r/TheOnion brings you satire news:

Find ideas on reddit: a picture from r/theonion
  • Who did he kidnap?
  • Police are shocked to receive a ransom note made of cutup magazine letters. It’s obviously not real!
  • A man kidnaps himself for attention.

r/NotTheOnion brings you news that seems too crazy to be true. But it is true news:

find ideas on reddit: a title from r/nottheonion
  • Your protagonist works for Facebook. Write the meetings leading to this decision.
  • We used to have the internet and people could say whatever they wanted. But it all started to decline when Facebook removed the horny emojis. Now, here we are.
  • Have some characters choose new horny emojis.

r/WorldNews brings you news from all over the world:

Find ideas on reddit: try using r/worldnews
  • China has replaced the US as the worlds leading superpower.
  • America is just a tv show for the rest of the world’s entertainment. How did they find out?
  • What if America & China nuked each other?

#10) Writing Prompts

Writing prompts are a great way to get inspired to write something. They can be visual, dialogue, ideas, quotes, or a combination.

Here’s an example writing prompt from HORROR Writing Prompts:

Visual Writing Prompt: FOG ALL THE TIME. A picture of a foggy sidewalk and lamp.

Also, check out the Daily Writing Prompt Subscription and get your first month for just $1.

Get Inspired & Get Writing

Pin This: Finding Ideas for Writers (Are you struggling with inspiration and writing ideas? STOP! Check out these 9+ places to find creative writing ideas and inspiration that you can use now).

What methods of writing inspiration are your favorite? You don’t have to choose just one – use one or use them all!

Did I miss any of your favorite places to find ideas and inspiration? Let me know what (and where) they are in the comments below.

Now that you’re brimming with ideas, it’s time to choose one to outline! Check out How to Outline a Novel next.

PS. If you want a new prompt every day, check out the Daily Prompt Subscription. Your first month is free, and then it’s only $3/month (cancel any time).

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Pin This: How to Write a Book (Want to learn how to write a book? Check out this comprehensive list of resources for novel writing (like outlining, plot, character development, and more).


How to Outline a Novel (The outline is a valuable writing tool! Learn about 5 common & popular outlining methods plus how to customize them for plotters, pantsers, and planters).

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