I think I've ran out of good stories (we've all been there)

Ashigara

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Can't be out of good story ideas if you've never had a good one. Just a few trash ones you can't even coax into something half-decent.
 
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erinwritesalot

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It's never bad to just write whatever comes to mind, doesn't matter whether it's good or not. I have times where I feel like what I'm writing isn't good, yet I still do it because I love to. As long as you enjoy what you're doing, I feel like it shouldn't matter whether or not someone thinks it's good. Of course, it'll always be satisfying to write a 'good' story, yet who's to say your story isn't? Imaginations exist for a reason, and I know mine is crazy at times. Isn't everyones? Either way, just have fun writing, and everything should be okay! Along the way, you might even have a 'good' idea. IDK why good is a thing. Why can't things just exist? lol, either way, just write what you want, when you want.
 
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Gehenna

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I second the Ideas folder, I have one and write everything- from the smallest idea to a full outline.

As for inspiration, I look for the most mundane object in a room and start thinking, if I had to write a book about it, what would it be? Helps me a lot to find inspiration in anything and everything.
Me, being a horror person, go in that direction. I recently outlined a future project over a book title I saw- Yoga for Witches. The second I read it, it was like BAM.
 

Writerofghosts

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When I run out of ideas I try to think of two completely unrelated things and mesh them together.
Stephan King says that i how he doe it.....takes a normal situation.....like small town. Then he adds a what if.....WHat if witchcraft appeared in a small town. For Carrie he took teen bullying and then added ESP. Threw it in the trash. His wife saw it read it, and you know the rest.
 

TristenHannah

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Stephan King says that i how he doe it.....takes a normal situation.....like small town. Then he adds a what if.....WHat if witchcraft appeared in a small town. For Carrie he took teen bullying and then added ESP. Threw it in the trash. His wife saw it read it, and you know the rest.
Telekinesis to be more exact
 

WD Writes

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Actually, this mention of Stephen King makes me remember that his book On Writing is very good for lots of different hints on this! I'm not a Stephen King fan generally (too scary!) but found this really helpful. Lots about generating ideas and about how to handle getting stuck - I think I remember him saying if he gets stuck while writing a story, he just writes a completely different scene. That idea you could write stuff out of order was a revelation to me!

I hope you keep writing - I think that's the answer for most things. I'm sure the ideas will come, and any ideas you think are not-good, might just be little genius ideas that haven't formed fully yet!
 
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reaping-raddish

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I don’t read a lot of Stephen King, although I have enjoyed a few of his books, but I agree that his book On Writing was excellent. I think that my big take away was the meshing of ideas, but don’t force it (I think). I have had an idea for a story, but it took me over 6 months for it to really click. I mostly made notes about it.
I have a notebook almost full of ideas.
Sometimes I just write ideas, things in history or life that interests me. Then something clicks and sounds like a story. It is part of my love for non-fiction. So many stories in life influences good fiction. In my opinion.
 

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I've never let a lack of good stories stop me from writing :p

People tend to get hung up on ideas, but ideas are like cuts of meat. Great ingredients don't ensure a great meal -- that comes down to the skill and passion of the chef. Of course, writers have a big advantage over chefs since we finish making a meal then remake the meal again and again with the same ingredients until we get it right. And an idea might change a dozen times during that process.
I love this analogy.
 
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Steven_E_Moir

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Actually, this mention of Stephen King makes me remember that his book On Writing is very good for lots of different hints on this! I'm not a Stephen King fan generally (too scary!) but found this really helpful. Lots about generating ideas and about how to handle getting stuck - I think I remember him saying if he gets stuck while writing a story, he just writes a completely different scene. That idea you could write stuff out of order was a revelation to me!

I hope you keep writing - I think that's the answer for most things. I'm sure the ideas will come, and any ideas you think are not-good, might just be little genius ideas that haven't formed fully yet!
I find it odd that anyone could write stuff in order. I always start thinking about scenes I plan for later in the story. If I come up with a unique angle, I'm going to write that scene no matter where I am. I kind of do a general outline and fill in the pieces that interest me. The hard part comes when I have to write B, connecting A and C. I didn't think B was as interesting, so my ADHD brain skipped it. So my writing is often islands of good stuff with "filler" I'm procrastinating on in between. I am always looking for ways to make the "filler" more interesting, too. I suspect this is a bad approach because I have continuity problems. Part A was going here, but part C jumped ahead and went to someplace completely other. So I have to rewrite A to match C and then put in B. And somehow I've already written Q, and getting that SOB to fit will be challenging. Sigh.
 

Steven_E_Moir

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I suspect that a great writer can make a decent story out of almost any idea. Take Hemmingway's Old Man and the Sea. Idea: An old dude catches the biggest fish of his life. Give that idea to a hundred writers. Most will come up with something lackluster. Hand it to Hemmingway? One of the most classic novels of all time. It's not the idea that makes the story but how it is used.
 

WD Writes

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I find it odd that anyone could write stuff in order. I always start thinking about scenes I plan for later in the story. If I come up with a unique angle, I'm going to write that scene no matter where I am. I kind of do a general outline and fill in the pieces that interest me. The hard part comes when I have to write B, connecting A and C.
Ah, I am a strict start at the beginning and write through to the end type of writer (though I do have ideas for later scenes of course). I can tell you from personal experience, it isn't better! Things still don't match up because the story changes halfway through, and then come the inevitable multiple rewrites. So...I don't think there's a right way, or an easy way. It's just whatever works for you!

(Although I live in awe of people who do detailed outlines first! I wish I could master this. Alas...)
 
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BustedPrinter

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How about a father and son having a boxing match for a story idea?
I did not do a novel fully about this, but it was an ending scene of one. A novel where a brother and sister were running away from an abusive father. It culminated in a fight scene between the two. It ended with a surprise, the son got beaten, but then a character in the story emerged again, and when the son was not looking, deliberately pushed him into the ocean. This allowed the kids to be orphan's and adopted by non-abusive parents.
 

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I keep two lists of ideas.

One is just general ideas for books. Just nuggets of ideas from just a concept, to some that are plotted out well.
The other is genres of books I want to write. Its not every genre granted, but I want to be a well rounded writer and not solely devoted to one type.

Recently I tired of writing thrillers. It just seemed as if I was writing the same thing with rinse and repeat. So I broke out of thrillers and did the Femme Fetale I always wanted to do, and then the Western I always wanted to do. It was what I needed.

Granted the western was only 72,000 words because westerns are typically 50-80 thousand words, but it went from idea to finished in 4 weeks. It just flew onto the page. I just needed to do something different.
 

Infinimata

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I keep two lists of ideas.

One is just general ideas for books. Just nuggets of ideas from just a concept, to some that are plotted out well.
The other is genres of books I want to write. Its not every genre granted, but I want to be a well rounded writer and not solely devoted to one type.

Recently I tired of writing thrillers. It just seemed as if I was writing the same thing with rinse and repeat. So I broke out of thrillers and did the Femme Fetale I always wanted to do, and then the Western I always wanted to do. It was what I needed.

Granted the western was only 72,000 words because westerns are typically 50-80 thousand words, but it went from idea to finished in 4 weeks. It just flew onto the page. I just needed to do something different.
I have something like this myself. There's a list of what-if story seeds, and then a list of general settings/flavors for a book. For the latter, I recently jotted down "a story about the art of meals", a la the movies "Big Night" or "Babette's Feast". No actual story yet, just an impulse. But the impulse is there, and by tracking it someday I hope to honor it.
 

BustedPrinter

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I have something like this myself. There's a list of what-if story seeds, and then a list of general settings/flavors for a book. For the latter, I recently jotted down "a story about the art of meals", a la the movies "Big Night" or "Babette's Feast". No actual story yet, just an impulse. But the impulse is there, and by tracking it someday I hope to honor it.
I also keep a running list for possible trilogies. I had a teacher in school who did a trilogy and so I just have a passion for them. A great "What if" for any writer is to look at some stories or novels they have written and consider, "could that be turned into a trilogy or series?"

Keep in mind too, it may mean doing a prequel. If the novel has not been published yet then there is always the possibility of adding one or two novels before that one, or adding two after, or even one before and one after. By messing around with the "what if" some ideas might be generated.

My wife and I did that last night as we talked. We went through some single novels I had written and considered ways to make them trilogies. Its worth considering possibilities for story ideas.
 
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Infinimata

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I also keep a running list for possible trilogies. I had a teacher in school who did a trilogy and so I just have a passion for them. A great "What if" for any writer is to look at some stories or novels they have written and consider, "could that be turned into a trilogy or series?"

Keep in mind too, it may mean doing a prequel. If the novel has not been published yet then there is always the possibility of adding one or two novels before that one, or adding two after, or even one before and one after. By messing around with the "what if" some ideas might be generated.

My wife and I did that last night as we talked. We went through some single novels I had written and considered ways to make them trilogies. Its worth considering possibilities for story ideas.
It's funny, because I have exactly the opposite impulse. Whenever I stumble across an idea that seems ripe enough to be realized, one of my first questions is, "What's the part of this story most worth telling?"

I'm not enamored of turning something into a trilogy just to be able to make one book out of three. As I see it, life's short, and I want to get as much as I can for a single book out of a single idea, then move on.
 

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Oh I so understand that.

Trilogies are both tougher and easier to write. I know that makes no sense so let me explain.

They are easier to write because the backstory, mannerisms, strengths and flaws can be carried over from one book to another. You don’t have to draw up entirely new main characters.

But they are harder to write too because they must have a central theme for all three novels, but be stand alone novels just the same. By ethical standards, or at least my own self imposed rules, I want a reader to be able to read each one out of order and not be lost, or have the endings of others in the trilogy being spoilers. Sure, it’s best if they read them in order, but not required. If written well enough, that can happen.

For me it’s evenly split right now: six stand alone novels and two sets of trilogies for a total of 12.

I have thought of a second novel for another single novel I wrote, but am not driven to write it. It’s started but like only 16,000 words written so far.

But your genre has a lot to do with trilogies and series too. Mystery novels or romance novels lend themselves better to series than do thrillers. It’s not that any genre is better or worse than another, it’s just that readers of certain genres have expectations. We love Columbia, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew to keep solving crimes, and want to feel like Jennifer or Steven when they are seduced or are romantically fall in love. In some genres we should just give the readers what they want… more. In other genres, it’s okay to let the character end along with the story.
 
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I watch people when I'm in town, and think about what I saw and how it would be in their shoes.
 

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This was a very good post to discover. For many years I was like Ink Soul with so many ideas that I thought I might burst but the pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction.

One thing I did a few years ago was challenge myself to come up with a different story idea each day in December but each story has to be a different genre.
Up to a few weeks ago I was awash with ideas, now... zippo.

I think this happens due to success. An author writes a few stories, and they turn out well, and so they get this new story idea, but it has not been fully hashed out on paper or in the author's mind, so it gets compared to a completed story and suddenly falls flat. It really is the same as writers block where an author just does not FEEL the story idea is any good.

The truth is, we just have not given the story a chance.

I struggle with some similar in woodworking. I get so wrapped up in what the finished project is going to look like, and its end use, that I forget that I actually love the woodworking part itself. For instance, right now I am building kitchen cabinets on my vacation this week. I want to get the most done in my free week here, BUT that is not really what I love. I love making sawdust. I love watching some sheets of plywood made a month ago, look like the cabinets were made when this Victorian house was built 100 years ago. I have to slow down and remember that I love woodworking, and the result from that is a great finished project. Rushing to finish it makes the project so crappy.

I struggle with this too, but I have to try and remember that really good novel I wrote three years ago was once a limited story idea at best. In spending time with it, it nurtured into something great. It's not fair to this story idea to discount it now.

Not that all story ideas will be great. Nope, some suck, but a good sign it's a potentially great story, is if you return to it in thought or on paper again and again.
 

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Oddly, I’ve found that coming up with a simple premise and just writing tends to grow into more.
 

Maryn

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I suspect that's fairly common. I can't be the only one in this thread who wrote a short story that turned into a novella that became a fat-ass novel that in turn became first of a series...
 

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I love finding "Calls for Submission" for literary magazines with writing prompts or themes when I run out of things to write. Those are really fun to write, I think. I also think a good walk can be really helpful for clearing your head.
 

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You can do a few things that might help. (And might not--we're being honest here.) One is to keep a file folder full of story and novel ideas. Mine is named Ideas. Pretty clever, huh? There are going to be times when you have more than one idea and will focus on the best one, or the one with the most appeal, but you don't want to lose the others. Write a sentence or a paragraph so they'll be there when the well runs dry.

Another thing to consider is playing What-If with the real world, either your own life or that of others, from acquaintances to people in the news. Say you have an argument with a colleague at work. In reality, you both realize you let emotions get the better of you, apologize, and work together with courteous civility. What what if Colleague had punched you? Threatened you? Had a gun in their desk? Didn't know you have a gun in your desk? You can play what-if with almost anything. Ninety out of a hundred what-if ideas are silly, but there's gold in there, too.

The writer can also mine stories that should have been better. Who hasn't seen a movie or TV show, or read something, that started out pretty good then went completely off the rails? You can craft a similar set-up, not copying but incorporating the basic concepts needed, then have it go the way it should have. Voila, fresh story.

Maryn, hoping this helps
So much THIS!
1. Big Caveat here, DON'T put your idea list on your smart phone (ask me how I know). Use actual pen and paper and keep it safe, like where you'd keep your stash of gold safe.
2. The "What If?" game is actually a lot of fun, too. I do this often. I even base characters off of this game when I'm writing in any genre. For example, I have a boss in my career that I loathe, and he loathes me. It's bad enough that others see it (luckily they're on my side, as he's quite the archetypal antagonist). He'll be a bad guy, or at least his personality, in an upcoming novel I have planned. Another example is a colleague from a former career that is one of the deadliest humans I've ever met (his former career and that career). Awesome guy, but there are definite quirks. I made a character after him that my alpha/beta readers LOVE.
3. I've not done the mining method, but everything I've come up with has been done before to some degree. I suppose the mixture of weird ideas (that's just a thing I do) can be original to some degree, but the plot lines are almost always like something else. That's sort of what we do, right?
Anyway, I came to share similar ideas, but this pretty much nails it.

The only thing I'd add to the What If method is just letting yourself be creative. I've found that the funnier or stupider something sounds, the better that story tends to be. For example, my first novel (and series) are based on the Amish hording technology, as I live near an Amish community. It's been a blast to write that series, and I have a good reader base built up from it, which hopefully translates to some degree when it comes out this summer (self-publishing - haven't got picked up traditionally yet, though I've not tried very hard either, so there's that lol).

Happy idea hunting everyone! Don't give up hope.

A final thought... the dark days are pretty good ideas too. Readers like to escape reality, but sometimes they want to delve into someone else's pain. My most loved scenes from readers so far often include those dark points.
 

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I have a folder of all ideas that pop into my head. Usually they are things that I've seen in life that are interested. For example I was watching a Neanderthal documentary on Netflix and it spoke about how it looked like they ate others. And it made me think of other reasons to why they might be this. And that gave me a seed of something, where maybe there are people who eat flesh to consume a person's memory or to gain some type of magic or use the powder of bone for other efforts.

There are stories everywhere you just need to be on the look out for them.
 
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