S is for Story

A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or 
instruct the hearer or reader; tale.

Where do stories come from? 


The newspaper, current events, your life, dreams, your imagination. Sometimes a snippet of an idea or image is enough to get you started. You simply must be open to them, and paying attention. It might be unusual, or it could be something mundane that everyone can relate to. 

There are universal themes that can add great impact to your story, such as birth, death, betrayal, revenge, desire, courage, and love. Additionally, certain themes resonate more with us than others. Not sure what yours are? Try making a list of your favorite books or movies. See if they have anything in common. Or, if you can't think of anything, start now. Every time you watch or read something you love, write it down. Analyze these works to determine what the themes are. If you've been writing for a bit, see if there is a pattern in your own work. Once you've figured out what your life-themes are, you can think of them as your creative secret weapons. They may inspire you in a deeper way than other themes, and make stories more powerful. If you want to take it a step further, start a Pinterest page with images that enchant, or, better yet--haunt--you. Want to do it old school? Pictures from magazines work, too. 

Many writers carry a little book (or keep notes on their phone or iPad) to jot down details that intrigue them, to use one day. If you start a title file, and add new titles every time you think of a good one, you'll have a ready well of creative titles to choose from, too.

But most importantly?
 If you get an idea, WRITE IT DOWN

You probably won't remember it later.

Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.” 
― Madeleine L'Engle

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” 

― Philip Pullman

“It's like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.” 
― Haruki MurakamiKafka on the Shore

Stories you read when you're the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you'll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit.” 
― Neil GaimanM Is for Magic

Kurt Vonnegut on Writing Stories
Neil Gaiman on Story Ideas
New Yorker Robert McKee Interview

"There are books full of great writing that don't have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story...read sometimes for the words--the language...but when you find a book that has both a good story and good words, treasure that book.” 



  1. Truly, there is never a loss for inspiration! Just open your eyes!

  2. I have forgotten a few story ideas because I didn't write them down. There was one recently that I really liked the idea of, but now I can't remember it. =(

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  3. If something is interesting, I write it down for it could possibly make a great story. And every story idea I have makes its way into a notebook. Recently I found a box full of notebooks all filled with story ideas just waiting to be written - it was like having my birthday and Christmas all in one :-) Good luck with the rest of the AtoZchallenge.

  4. I woke up at 6 this morning and found I couldn't go back to sleep because a seed for a story implanted in my brain - it even came with a title I loved! So, yes, the initial idea for a story seems to pop up out of nowhere. But I usually ask myself at some point (early on if not during the plotting session) where it came from?

    It's a question I might as well be asked by an agent and/or editor and/or reader later, and the answer is never hard to find. I get inspired by everything that comes into contact with my consciousness. Just as I don't always dream up randomness, my plots don't spring up from nowhere. Then again that's just me. ^_^

    Thanks for this post - oh and the wonderful quotes! I love stocking up on the inspiration.

  5. Great post! Inspiration comes from everywhere! I should try analyzing the themes that speak to me most. I do tend to gravitate to stories where the main characters are on the outskirts of society, not quite fitting in. That probably says a lot about me.

    Stormy’s Sidekicks!

    @LGKeltner from
    Writing Off the Edge


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