Often the hardest part of writing can be coming up with an idea - let alone finishing a first draft! The good news is that you don't have to sit around waiting for that elusive inspiration to come and find you. With the Hammond House International Writing Competition around the corner, we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to share some of our favourite story generation techniques.
1. Random Word Generation
Story ideas don't have to come from a muse - they can come from three simple words. Random word generators, such as this one this one, can be a great way to kickstart your creativity. You can use these three words to come up with a beginning, middle and ending to your story, or to simply jog your creativity.
2. First Line Generator
A first line must grab the reader instantly and draw them in. They're also infamously difficult to come up with. If you want a nudge in the right direction, you can use a Random First Line Generator like this one. It does what it says on the tin, and can produce some very intriguing openers. Consider how the story can unfold from here.
3. Pick An Object
It could be a baby's dummy, a coin you found on the pavement, or even a peculiar-looking building you see on your way to work. You can use that object to conjure up a story: how did the object get there? Why is it there? Who uses the object, and for what purpose?
4. Random Sentence
If you're anything like me, you spend 90% of the time surrounded by books. If you're stuck, you could pick a book, flip to any page, and pick a sentence at random. Now try to turn this sentence into its very own story. It's a challenging technique, but a fascinating exercise.
5. Hold The Front Page
The news is full of doom and gloom these days...but it can inspire some interesting stories! Perhaps there's a headline that intrigues, or an ongoing story that fascinates you. You could even use some of the more outlandish stories from magazines.
A wedding becomes a war zone. A friendly conversation becomes a bitter argument. A perfect date turns into a perfect disaster. Stories are driven by change. Try and think of two polar opposite situations. How do you get from A to B? What causes this change, and how do the characters react to it?
7. Send Lord Voldemort To A Charity Gala
Yes, this one sounds a bit silly, but it's true: characters are more interesting when they are placed somewhere completely alien to them. Put a well-established character - fictional or otherwise - into a situation or place they wouldn't usually be in. How to they react? How do others react? See what happens.
8. Picture This
We've all heard that overused phrase before: "Pictures tell a thousand words". But when you're struggling to generate ideas, they truly can! Choose a picture or painting. It can be from a newspaper, the Internet, or even from your family photo album. What's happening in the picture? If there are people, who are they? What are they doing in the picture, and why? What's happening off-camera? A whole complex story can unravel from a simple image.