I have been thinking a lot about where ideas for great stories often come from. When we are at school, we are taught that a good story begins with a detailed setting and an interesting main character. In my experience, this is not a bad place to start. Almost every story I have ever written has emerged from a particular setting. The main character has usually developed soon afterwards.
Many of you will know that I began by writing short stories and I am a massive fan of short fiction. One of my favourite locations for a short story is somewhere snowy. Here is a short clip of a snowy setting that made me want to write a story about getting stuck in a snowdrift.
For me, a story nearly always starts with a certain location. I like to know where my characters are going to be based before I conjure up problems for them to deal with. As a writer, if you are suffering from writer’s block, perhaps explore some pictures of a variety of places before trying to imagine a storyline. Often the location will spark a story gem which can grow and satisfy.
Some settings I have enjoyed using are:
1) The seaside. A trip to Hunstanton gave me inspiration for a tale about a woman returning to the beach where her husband perished.
2) The Swiss Alps. My holiday there made me think about what Christmas might be like there and set the scene for a story of a reporter sent to Switzerland to interview a guy claiming to be Jesus.
3) A Yorkshire town. A weekend away to Skipton started me thinking about a sleepy Yorkshire town where a corrupt mayor might hold the keys to more than just the town hall.
4) One deserted Fenland house. Driving past an old house with shattered windows made me wonder who might have lived there. It inspired my upcoming YA novel about two teenagers being watched by a mysterious land owner.
5) A patisserie. A quaint French patisserie got me imagining two people meeting through a glass bakery counter. One was feverishly cleaning the glass while the other looked fondly at not only the baked goods but also the woman behind the counter. Their eyes met then they were transfixed.
For me, my best ideas come from travelling and it is no surprise that holidays have fuelled my stories. My lack of holidays during the pandemic has slowed down my creative writing but I am looking forward to some travelling across Europe in summer. My advice to any writer would be write about somewhere you know OR a place that you want to get to know well.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article. For another post about writing stories, check out How To Write Short Stories. Please consider following my blog for future similar articles.