How to Brainstorm Ideas For a New Story

Sep 8, 2023

A story idea is the initial spark that ignites a writer’s journey before diving into outlining and writing their tales. While some writers effortlessly conjure up these ideas, others might find it to be the most challenging part of the creative process. In this article, we’ll focus on the latter group.

Generating fresh ideas for your stories can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. You might believe you’ve exhausted all ideas or that everything groundbreaking has already been explored, so why bother? This can be disheartening and make you doubt your abilities. However, let me assure you that this is far from the truth. Every writer possesses their unique strengths—some excel in crafting dialogues, some in characterization, and others in infusing emotion into their narratives.

Brainstorming can indeed be a formidable adversary in the world of screenwriting and writing, but fear not, for with the right tools, you can conquer it and never run dry of new ideas. Here are some tips to help you triumph in the realm of brainstorming.


Miles Morales in Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) | Sony Animations


Tune into Music that Sets the Mood

Consider listening to music that aligns with the genre you intend to write in. As you immerse yourself in a song, you naturally pay close attention to its lyrics. If those lyrics resonate with you and tell a story that speaks to your soul, why not transform it into a story of your own? When you do, infuse it with your unique voice.

Choosing music that matches your intended genre can also be a game-changer. If you’re aiming to craft a romance movie, lock yourself away from distractions and indulge in blues or melodies that evoke the desired mood. As you explore various songs, one of them may spark the inspiration you need, and this principle applies to all genres.


Find Inspiration in Other Stories

One powerful method to come up with ideas for a new story is to draw inspiration from other movies or shows that interweave multiple narratives. Take “Supernatural” (2005-2020) as an example. This long-running series ventured into diverse storylines, including Demons, Vampires, God, Lucifer, Angels, and Leviathans. It’s a wide range of horror elements waiting to be explored. While you can draw inspiration from their ideas, remember to add your unique twist and create original characters and narratives.


Story idea from the Ebola virus saga in Nigeria - 93 Days movie

Characters in “93 Days,” a 2016 movie based on the Ebola virus outbreak in Nigeria.


Explore Real-Life Stories for Ideas

Dive into articles detailing real-life events that align with your chosen genre. Suppose you’re crafting a crime story or delving into the mind of a serial killer. In that case, researching different serial killers can offer valuable insights into their motivations and psychology. Figures like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, for instance, exhibit common traits, such as a dire need for attention and fame. Utilize this knowledge to craft distinct and memorable characters that stand out from real-life counterparts.


Write What You Know

Sometimes, the best stories emerge from your own experiences and expertise. Writing about an idea you intimately understand makes the creative process smoother. By infusing real-life elements and inserting relatable characters, you can craft narratives that resonate deeply with your audience. A good example is Chris Rock, who penned “Everybody Hates Chris” (2005-2009), drawing from his life experiences, including racism, growing up in poverty, and dealing with strict parents.

So, if your life is an interesting one, definitely write about it so your audience can know what it is like to walk in your shoes. 


Put Your Spin on Existing Ideas

It’s often said that there is nothing new under the sun, only new ways to do them. This applies to storytelling, too. There are no entirely new stories, only new ways of telling them. Take vampires, for instance. While the idea of vampires feeding on humans was initially depicted as terrifying in “Nosferatu” (1922), later works like “Twilight” (2008-2012) and “The Vampire Diaries” (2009-2017) took a different route. They romanticized vampires, portraying them as relatable protagonists with human-like emotions. The key is to add your unique twist while adhering to genre conventions.


Getting story ideas - Saoirse Ronan as Jo March in Little Women

Saoirse Ronan as Jo March in Little Women | Sony Pictures Entertainment


 Always Carry a Notepad

As a writer, it’s wise to keep a notepad handy wherever you go. Story ideas can strike at any moment, and if you don’t jot them down, chances are you will forget them. Thankfully, our mobile devices have notepads in-built; they’re best utilised for this purpose.


Stay Informed Through the News

News outlets are a goldmine of story ideas. The world is constantly abuzz with events, both ordinary and extraordinary. When you find yourself struggling to brainstorm, listen to the news. You may stumble upon a real-life story that sparks your creative imagination. 

I was once in a cab and the radio was turned on, so I listened. After a while, I heard a news report that made me wonder; from there I started thinking about it, and a story idea was born.  I crafted a story treatment for the idea a few days later. 


In conclusion, rest assured that you possess the tools to conquer the challenging realm of brainstorming ideas for your next story. Whether it’s through music, real-life tales, personal experiences, or adding your spin to existing ideas, creativity knows no bounds. So, go ahead, unleash your imagination, and keep those story ideas flowing


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