I post each October some story ideas that I am considering for that Month of Madness called NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and then let readers vote on which one I’ll write for 30 days and 50,000 words.
If you want to chime in on this year’s contest, hop on over to Write on Sisters and cast your vote in the comments section. The polls are open for one week only!
I don’t have trouble coming up with story ideas, but some authors I’ve met are always casting around for the idea for their next book. They go about the search in a number of ways. Maybe they scroll through a Twitter feed and collect interesting ideas. Maybe they use news story headlines. Maybe they collect first lines of other peoples’ novels. Story starters are everywhere!
One source is a list of story starters and play the “What If” game with the idea.
You know the game. Identify a trope or a premise. Then ask: “What if … happened? And then what if she …? Or what if …. “? You can create a heck of a lot of scenes that way. I play “what if …” all the time. Sometimes I alternate with “How Come …?”.
Since I write culinary mysteries, I definitely have to create multiple scenarios with the same clues so somebody is guilty and all the other suspects get cleared. It makes for a messy outline, let me tell you!
Here are a month of starters for you to play “What If” or “How Come” with.
1. Virginia Dare, first white child born in the Americas, survived and grew up in Pocohantas’ tribe.
2. A woman inherits her Welsh uncle’s manor house and possessions but she must destroy the contents of the attic without examination.
3. A mysterious ancient document is discovered in an unknown language that the best computers cannot decode.
4. A woman is about to leave her abusive husband when he is almost killed. When he recovers, he is a completely different personality.
5. A woman is killed while walking her dog, and her spirit enters the dog’s body and determines to live there despite the dog’s spirit still being there.
6. Five young girls form a ghost club as a summertime activity that turns dangerous when a ghost visits one of them.
7. A young boy goes around his neighborhood asking if anyone has a crime to solve.
8. A family moves into their new home and the strangest things start happening.
9. A 19-year old moves to Hollywood to break into movies but it’s not as easy as she thought.
10. Children playing in the woods notice something odd sticking up out of the ground and start digging.
11. As a deadly virus sweeps the world a group of religious initiates begin to practice some horrible rituals.
12. A woman survives breast cancer only to lose the most precious thing in her life.
13. He popped the cork off the old flask and took a sip.
14. A woman has the kind of personality that drives away everyone around her until one day, after a single act, everyone wants to know her.
15. A huge crowd of undead stood at the doors of St. Peter’s Cathedral pounding on the doors seeking salvation.
16. Blackmailer, briber, and charming were words she used to describe him.
17. Their love was the purest, sweetest thing the man had ever observed until one night when everything changed.
18. She blinked her eyes open when she heard the chime, but she wasn’t where she had fallen asleep.
19. He is fighting to get the medical marijuana laws in his state changed, but someone wants to stop him.
20. The alley is dark, uninviting but he enters anyway and one-third of the way in he begins to giggle.
21. She walked into the house after work one evening to voices, one of which was her dog’s.
22. When he was picked to be Mr. January for the EMT calendar, he thought his romance worries were over.
23. While watching an old Twilight Zone story, she heard a sound upstairs that was just like the sound on TV.
24. The dismissive princess watched the impressive parade of suitors from her tower window, but one man stared boldly back.
25. The old man sat on the park bench soaking up the warm summer sun when a chill ran down his spine.
26. The holidays were always strained with the relatives, but the couple expected even more discomfort this year after what had happened.
27. The young woman opened the drawer next to her grandmother’s bed and pulled out an expensive sex toy.
28. It wasn’t until they were in bed that she noted the green reptilian skin on his back.
29. The machine hummed just as it was supposed to, and when it stopped the door slid open to revealing an Egyptian embalmers room.
30. The fur-wrapped and sandal-clad man struggled across the glacier.
31. She closed her eyes knowing that when she opened them again she would be in paradise.
Now that you are all stoked for your next several writing projects, head over to Write on Sisters and vote for what I will write in November for NaNoWriMo. Thanks! I’ll announce the winner here next week.