This is one of the first questions I get asked at a writing workshop or class visit.
I can remember my teacher asking for our class to write about what we did in the holidays, and then being stuck staring at the blank page in front of me, completely stumped as to what I should write about.
Those 'What I did in my holidays' scribbles were all good practice for future writing. It didn't matter how little or how much you did in your holidays, you could tap into stuff you did and write about it - like a short and simple 'slice of life' piece.
But where do you get completely NEW ideas?
Ideas always elude me if I'm trying really hard to find them. I'm sure you've heard or read writing advice that tells you to keep your eyes and mind open at what is happening around you. And of course, the very helpful 'What if?' scenario.
So, if we combine these two pieces of advice, what can we come up with? Just imagine being in a Shopping centre or Mall and you see a little old lady standing with her bag (that rolls on little wheels) in a quiet corner of the mall, or even sitting on the seats in the centre of the Mall.
What's in her bag? Is it her life savings in cash? Is it a rattlesnake she is going to let loose? Or something really creepy... is it not a little old lady at all, but a planetary warlord in disguise, scoping out these mall things that humans seem to flock to in their thousands?
Again, look around you and then think What if? What if you wake up one morning and you're not in your bed, or your room, or even the same house? Where are you? How did you get there? Are you on another planet, or in a cave deep underground or back in time when your grandfather was a boy?
What if - as you are pouring milk on your cereal in the morning, it starts to swirl in your plate and a message is spelt out in your cornflakes, or a tiny milk covered hand reaches out of the centre and you're the only one at the table who sees it?
What if a tree you sit under every day speaks to you?
What if someone new moves into the neighbourhood and they end up being the best friend you ever had, but only after they are your worst enemy?
Is there someone on the news that is doing something interesting? Can you change things around a little?
Is there a character who appears only briefly in a movie or book you can write about - telling their story? (This is close to Fan Fiction)
Your imagination is a powerful thing if you let it be. Sure sometimes imagination can be scary - That's why we're scared of the dark, or what's under our bed, or in our wardrobe, when we all know there is nothing there! But if you let your amazing imagination dig a little deeper into what you see around you, you'll be surprised at what you might find. And when you get good at it, you'll have more ideas than you know what to do with - then you can combine certain ideas into a story.
You can 'What if' a bazillion things and each of those bazillion can be twisted and turned into a bazillion different directions and you're on your way to a great story.
If you'd like a Writing Workshop at your School, just drop me a message through my Contact page at the top of the screen.