There are two problems that face every aspiring writer:
- Where to get creative writing ideas, and
- What to do with the idea once you've got one
It's really the second fact that causes all the trouble.
There is no shortage of good story ideas.
Open any newspaper, flip a few pages of the bible, listen to a couple songs on the radio, scan the headlines of any of the supermarket tabloids, watch a TV drama or sit com. listen to a friend at the water cooler or even eavesdrop on a total stranger, etc., etc. There are stories everywhere.
Stories are literally bubbling out of every crack and crevice of our everyday world 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We are drowning in creative writing ideas.
And we haven't even got creative yet. We haven't engaged one ounce of creativity and already we have more stories than we know what to do with.
That's the real problem. There are TOO MANY story ideas.
But the aspiring writer doesn't know what to do with all the creative writing ideas whirling around in their head.
They don't know where to start. And so they erroneously feel like they have a shortage of creative writing ideas when the problem is they simply don't know how to develop any one the hundreds or even thousands of them they run across every day into something usable.
Part of the confusion comes from being a trained and experienced "reader" of stories.
Being a good reader, the aspiring writer feels like he should write the story from beginning to end just like (and while) he is reading it.
But it doesn't work that way.
The writer cant write the story the same way the reader is going to read it.
The second problem is that any idea they come up is immediately rejected as being too trite, shop worn, overused, or done a hundred times, etc.
And there is some truth in that - all the stories HAVE been done before.
By various accounts there are only 50 and some say 100 or 200 plots and that's it.
So, given even a few thousand years wouldn't you imagine that all the stories have already been told, all the plots used...
Yes, all those plots have been done a million times.
But there are two things that keep it fresh.
- You're going to tell it in your special way.
- Your reader hasn't read all the plots there are, and really doesn't care, even if he has heard or seen that plot before.
There is this little contract between you and your reader where they supply the willing suspension of disbelief and you supply something they can believe in.
It's that simple.
Rather than worrying about creative writing ideas we must focus on story development or what is more appropriately identified as Story Conception and Story Design.
Here is the actual sequence of processes the would-be storyteller must work through in order to write a salable manuscript.
- Story Conception
- Story Design
- Story Research
- Story Composition
The problem is that aspiring writers have no such set of processes and so they try to jump from "idea" straight to composition. And when that fails they feel that it was the fault of, or lack of, creative writing ideas.
The truth is, the fault lies in lack of process.
Each of the above are individual processes; collectively they all add up to one giant process which I call "The Story Engine".
Click here to find out more about "The Story Engine".
The problem with creative writing ideas is that they must be developed through the Story Conception Process before the writer can really do much with them.
There is a full explanation of this process in my manual "The Rich Writers Story System" which you can learn out about here but this is the simplicity of the Story Conception Process.
- To be a story the narrative must be illustrating some point.
The definition of the word "premise" defines what a point is.
- From premise you can create the "Log-Line" and then a "Story Statement".
- From Story Statement you can step into the Story Design process and work out all the details of the plot and facts of the story.
- And now that you know what the story is you can Research to find any facts that you need.
- And finally, knowing what the story is about, and having decided how to tell it, you can compose the manuscript very rapidly and with virtually no re-writing.
This is obviously a bare bones outline of the Story Conception process. But that's how you get from a creative writing idea to something that you as a storyteller can start to work with.
There is no shortage of creative writing ideas only a shortage of simple logical processes to turn those ideas into stories that can be told in the Story Composition Process.
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