5 Minutes a Day: Brainstorming Story Ideas

I’m at 198 and counting. I’m one of those writers who keeps a list of story ideas.

Some of them are fairly fleshed out and would function as a premise.  Others are much less so.  I may have an idea for a character.  Other times it is a title.  And then there are the “what if” questions.  What if so-and-so met so-and-so?  What if so-and-so found themself in this situation.

They don’t have to be well-developed to be classified as an idea.  And that is definitely something you can do in only five minutes when time is precious.  The good news is that story ideas can come from anywhere.


Sometimes an article that is sent to my in-box inspires a story.  I’ll read about an event in history and wonder what happened before or after.  Or I’ll misread a heading.  I’m kind of famous for that.  This week I received “How to Turn Beans into Dinner,” but bobbing along on the treadmill I saw “How to Turn BEARS into Dinner.” It all started when Baby Bear misunderstood something he read.

A Location.

When we were in the Smoky Mountains, we saw tons of signs warning us about elk and black bears.  Before we left, I had two different story ideas – one about elk and one about black bear. Two more story ideas came from the mountains themselves.  And then there are the eight inspired by various museum and visitor center displays, and one inspired  by a local pronunciations.  That’s 13 total.


Sometimes all I need for inspiration is an image.  I do a lot of photo research for various projects at Pixabay.  The front page is an un-themed display of recent images.  Sometimes someone will post something new that sparks my imagination.

A Conversation.

And don’t forget to draw inspiration from the people around you.  One of my husband’s cousins is doing genealogy and is flabbergasted that he can’t find his grandparents’ death certificates.  Yeah.  You can’t toss something like that out in front of me and not generate a few ideas.

All it takes is a few moments to jot down a story idea.  Just keep your eyes open and a notebook handy.