How to create story ideas for your novels

How to create story ideas for the uninspired writer.

Here’s the situation. You wrote the first book in your series. Book one was around 90,000 words and took you two-three years to write. You have five books planned and by your estimate, it may take 4-8 years to write them all.

Well, you can’t pay your bills in 4 to 8 years. Common advice says write more books but what happens when you’re not inspired with ideas?

What do you do?

In order to become a successful author you need four things: To be unique, to tap into the right market, a lot of books, and a little bit of luck.

We can control three out of four of these things. The one I want to focus on is having a lot of books.

Readers are a ravenous bunch. If it took you three years to write a book those readers will finish that novel in three hours. Maybe five days if they’re slow readers. And you can bet that when they get to the end of your book they’re looking for the next one.

Look at all the successful authors you’ve read. Almost all of them have more than one book or short story. If they do not, they are the exception not the rule.

Dan Brown, James Patterson, Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, George R. R. Martin, Terry Pratchett, Alan Moore, multiple books, multiple stories.

Essentially, the more books you have, the better your chances of sustaining yourself with book income.

Unfortunately, at least for some of us, an idea for another story doesn’t always come easily. In fact, if we never planned on writing a sequel, being forced to create one is like pulling your own teeth.

For those of us who want to be full-time authors, that’s a problem.

The curse that plagues every writer is that sometimes you have to write when you don’t want to.

Even writing this blog post was a struggle for me. Coming up with something to talk about every month is difficult. Imagine how hard it would be to come up with something every week? Every day?

If you’ve seen memes of a writer pulling his hair with thousands of crumpled papers by his feet. That’s me. And maybe . . . that’s you.

Therefore, I present a solution to creating more story ideas.

The first thing you should do is look to TV shows. Specifically, episodic cartoons or shows that contain episodes that do not relate to one another. Think of Star Trek when the Enterprise meets a new alien civilization or discovers a new planet. These episodes are often disconnected from each other though they may fit under a broad story arc.

We’ll use Star Trek Deep Space 9 as an example.

Episodes that build off each other in order to create the story arc:

Sisko becomes a prophet; prophet gains access to the worm hole; worm hole leads to discovery of new alien species; alien species is hostile and launches an invasion; Starfleet fights back; Sisko the prophet ends war with the Dominion.

Episodes that are completely unrelated to one another but still provide compelling stories:

Vic the hologram needs help getting rid of a mob boss; Dax and Worf get married; Dr. Bashir is exposed as genetically enhanced; Odo and Kira fall in love; Dax dies.

None of these episodes are integral to the Dominion story arc. They do, however, give us a chance to learn more about the characters.

In Batman the animated series, most of the episodes don’t follow any story arc. If they do, they are often a self-contained multi-part series.

How do we write this episodic content?

Well this technique may not work for all of you, but it worked for me. Try it out if you’re attempting to create story ideas. In this scenario you will write the ancillary character pieces instead of the main story arc. The side stories of Deep Space 9 rather than the main dominion plot.

Answer these questions:

  1. What is the current status of the main characters and villains?
  2. What is the state of the world after the events in book 1?
  3. Who has an unresolved conflict that would lead to an interesting story?
  4. How will the mental state of each character clash with each other?
  5. What plot threads need to be resolved?
  6. What does the main character want now that they couldn’t get in book 1?
  7. How does the current state of the world negatively affect the main character?
  8. What are the consequences of the protagonist’s actions to the world and how do those consequences affect the protagonist?

Once you have your answers, the seeds of a brand new story idea will be planted. If you’re still struggling with creating story ideas, throw in some variables to switch things up.

For instance, what if the main character becomes a side character? What if it’s a story about the villains? What if we follow one character then switch back to the main character for the duration of the story?

Once you have an idea that sounds interesting write a scene or an introduction.

Introduce the concept to yourself. “In 2044, mankind settled on a planet beyond our solar system. Now they’re trying to get back home to Earth.”

“After destroying New York City’s gangs, a dangerous drug cartel has risen to take control of the drug market. Only one person can stop them.”

If you find yourself writing more than 1,000 words, you’ve got a new story. If you get tired of writing the idea before 1,000 words, trash it.

Also, be aware that writing is a long-term process. Sometimes the idea still won’t hit you even after completing the questionnaire. Usually this means you need to experience something new in order to get your ideas percolating. This basically translates to . . . get out of the house and go somewhere new.

That’s all for today’s blog. No clue what I’ll have next month but I hope this tip helps you on your writing journey.

Good luck!

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The Silver Ninja: A Bitter Winter is available in E-Book, Paperback, and Hardcover. Click the store link to buy your copy today.

A Bitter Winter – The Silver Ninja [Vol. 1]

A Bitter Winter – The Silver Ninja [Vol. 1]

E-Book: 4.99 | Paperback: 12.99
Series: The Silver Ninja, Book 1
Genres: Action Adventure, Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Publisher: Silver Pencil Books
Publication Year: 2018
Format: Paperback | E-Book | Hardcover
Length: Novel
ISBN: 9781732221307

A disgraced cop takes matters into her own hands when the murderer who killed her partner comes after her family. To stop him, Cindy Ames fuses with a prototype suit and transforms herself into a superhero.

But the suit has a mind of its own and is determined to execute its hidden agenda.

The puppet has become the master, and the hero has become the monster.

Super powers can save a city but break a hero.

A Bitter Winter is book 1 of The Silver Ninja series.

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About the Book
The ultimate weapon is a woman with a vengeance. In this action packed superhero fantasy, the powerless becomes the powerful. As the Manhattan snow fell on her shoulders, Cindy Ames stared in disbelief at her bloodstained hands. Her fingers ached from violence. All she wanted was revenge for what happened to her sister. She stole a prototype suit and absorbed its incredible power. With it, she tore through criminals and terrorists in search for the killer who ruined her life. But something went horribly wrong. The red liquid pooling in her hands didn’t belong to her or the criminals. The suit has taken control of her mind and is using her body to fulfill its own purposes. The puppet has become the master, and the hero has become the monster. Can she regain control before she takes another innocent life? “It’s refreshing to read about a character (especially a female superhero), who isn’t perfect and has actual problems she must overcome.” – Kitiera Morey, Author of Meant to Bleed. “Wilmar Luna has taken the usual superhero saga and deconstructed it, shattering any expectations of the ordinary lawful good hero. Cindy isn’t quite an anti-hero, but she is certainly not playing things by the rules.” – Valerie, Cats luv Coffeez blogspot. Curious if this is the right book for you? Read a sample chapter and see for yourself!   A Bitter Winter 2018 promo artwork by Alexander Chelyshev
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About the Author
Wilmar Luna

From the time he put on Superman pajamas and leapt off a flight of stairs, Wilmar Luna has been captivated by stories of heroes saving the day. As he grew older, his fascination with 90's pop culture, video games, and movies filled his overactive imagination with fantastical worlds and legendary heroes.

He found an outlet for his creativity by studying video editing and motion graphics design at Mercer County Community College. After graduating in 2008, he freelanced throughout New York City and has edited numerous indie films, freelanced for the NFL, and also worked with the cinematics team at Rockstar Games. He assisted with the launch of Grand Theft Auto V and was also involved in the creation of cutscenes for Red Dead Redemption 2.

After years of watching his name scroll in other people’s credits (please don’t remove me), Wilmar wanted to develop his own projects and ideas. He decided that if he wanted to tell stories of empowered female characters, paranormal detectives, and ghost stories, he would have to venture off on his own.

Wilmar published his first novel in 2012 and his second in 2014. He also published several horror short stories on Wattpad, as well as concept ideas for a gothic fantasy novel. In 2018, Wilmar completed his novel The Silver Ninja: A Bitter Winter, fulfilling his childhood dream to create an empowered, independent, brand new superheroine for a generation of readers hungry for new stories.

For updates on his latest projects, please visit https://thesilverninja.com or follow him on Twitter @WilmarLuna.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Wilmar Luna