10 Unique Places to Find Story Ideas

The most frequently asked question of writers is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Most successful authors can’t pinpoint an exact place because their story ideas come from everything around them. If you’re suffering from the notorious writer’s block, here are ten unique places to get story ideas that you might never have considered before.

Unique Places to Find Story Ideas: The TV Guide

There are three useful versions of the TV Guide: the channel, the print version and the online version. Most people have access to at least one, and this can be a great place to find story ideas. Simply browse through the listings and read some of the titles of shows and movies coming on. Most also provide a one- or two-sentence description of the plot, which can be helpful as well. While you shouldn’t “copy” the plot of a movie or TV show, it might spark an idea for a fresh twist.

Unique Places to Find Story Ideas: Yellow Pages

There are many times when an interesting name can spark an entire plot line for a story. Haul out your latest edition of the Yellow Pages and flip through the listings until something catches your attention. For example, I once saw an ad for a childcare/nanny agency when I was looking for something else in the Yellow Pages and it spawned an idea for a short story that I later sold to Highlights.

Unique Places to Find Story Ideas: Song Lyrics

Most people listen to the radio or to a CD at least once during their busy day, so start paying attention to the song lyrics. Often, just one line can be fodder for a great new story; you might not have worked out the plot details right away, but you’ll have a character or an angle or a plot twist from which to work.

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Unique Places to Find Story Ideas: Non-Writers

Most writers spend every waking moment of their lives trying to think of their next idea for stories, articles and books. This is where non-writers come in handy. Sit down with a family member or friend and play the what-if game until something sparks your imagination. You might ask them to share a personal anecdote or request a scenario that could lead in multiple directions.

Unique Places to Find Story Ideas: Holy Texts

While I can’t speak for all of the Holy texts, I do know that the Bible is a great source for inspiration. You don’t have to be a Christian or even a religious writer to get ideas from a Holy book because the characters, settings, moral lessons and other aspects are as secular as they are religious. For example, setting the basic plot of the Good Samaritan in present-day with a few additional characters and a more updated scope could make a great children’s story.

Unique Places to Find Story Ideas: Techno-Mags

Many writers are taking their crafts into the next generation by creating fantastical plots based on new scientific research. If you read technology or scientific magazines, you’ll learn about the latest innovations, which just might spark a story idea. If you can take the technology a step further and make it plausible, it could easily be the basis for an exciting thriller or terrifying horror story.

Unique Places to Find Story Ideas: Comedy

If you enjoy visiting your local comedy club on Friday nights or even if you just like to curl up on the couch on the weekends and watch Saturday Night Live, you might come away with a plethora of story ideas. Comedy routines and sketches are excellent fodder, particularly when you’re watching a witty or intelligent comedian.

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Unique Places to Find Story Ideas: Classic Literature

I don’t know about you, but when I’m suffering from writer’s block, I always pull Dickens off the shelf and sit down to read. Browsing through classic literature is always an inspiration to me, and I become enlivened by the musical prose and the supreme development of characters that is often lacking in today’s novels. If you enjoy the classics, you can find hidden nuggets of inspiration that might carry you into your next story.

Unique Places to Find Story Ideas: Photo Albums

One of the best ways to come up with story ideas is to look into your own past. Each of the five senses can conjure up memories long buried under hours of painstaking work and years of repression, and photo albums can bring those memories to life again. Browse through all of the old books from your formative years and try to place the circumstances around each picture.

Unique Places to Find Story Ideas: Commercials

Ever since my family subscribed to DVR, we’ve lost the need to view commercials. We simply start watching shows halfway through and then fast-forward through the ads in order to save time. However, commercials can provide great fodder for stories, particularly since many contain story lines that are so tightly wound that they play out in under a minute.