I think a good post to start off with would be inspiration for a plot. It’s something lots of people struggle with, though I haven’t really been one of them. I will, however, lend a hand to people who are.
There are obviously billions upon trillions of ways to come up with a new plot, but I’ll share with you a few of my favorites.
Method 1 – “What if?”
This is a common method that is sure to bring you an interesting idea or two. You simply fill in the blank; “What if…”. What if I lost my dog? What if I forgot my big line in the school play? What if my mom called me an embarrassing nickname in front of the cutest guy in school? But while those kinds of “what if”s are all well and good, they seem a little bland, don’t they? What happens if we add some spice? “What if my teacher was a spy for the CIA?” There! Now we’re getting more interesting. Stories that are possible – probable, even – in every day life are fine, and maybe this is just my personal taste, but things really get fresh and exciting when you add that larger-than-life element. You know what you would do if your mom called you her little snuggle-poo in front of Joe Cool (in my case, I would run and hide under my bed), and it’s a very easy situation to imagine. However, if Mrs. Bower was an undercover operative trying to find a rouge janitor with top secret government information, the story becomes less of a classroom drama and more of an adventure. Wouldn’t you rather be rappelling down the tallest building in town than doing your homework? Well, so would your characters. And the best part is, you can still have your characters’ lives retain some normality. It doesn’t have to be all Middle Earth and fairies and magic wands. However, you can ditch life as we know it completely and do a “What if” about a wizard living on the planet of Avgad. It gives you more freedom as a writer, and you can let your imagination run wild. So when playing “What if”, the bigger, the better.
Method 2 – Music
I love listening to music while I do anything. Drawing, writing, even eating; if I have music, it automatically becomes 85% better. Often I’m inspired by the lyrics or tone of the music. For instance; the song All We Are by One Republic. If you haven’t already, look it up to listen to it (or at least look up the lyrics). While listening to it, I got a story idea; let’s say there was a normal teenage boy going to a new school. He immediately develops a huge crush on the most popular girl in school, even though she already had a boyfriend. She also happens to live on his street. One night he sees her go through a tunnel in the woods and disappear, so he follows her the next night. They emerge in another world, where the girl moonlights as the leader of a band of Earth children trapped in this other realm. She turns out to be a lot tougher than her clique persona lets on. The boy joins with them despite the girl’s protests and they slowly become friends. Then come threats from a group in the other world who want to capture children from Earth. The boy and girl and their friends go through a lot trying to get away, the girl temporarily getting captured. That’s a nice big start to a good storyline, and though it has pretty much nothing to do with the song at all, the song inspired me. My imagination did the rest. Music is also a vital part of actually writing, especially inspiring songs (Oh, and don’t steal that story idea, I might build on it ;D).
Method 3 – Real Life
Real life is also a great source of ideas. I’m not talking about “writing what you know”, because otherwise I would be stuck writing about the very boring life of a very boring girl, rather, look for inspiration in what happens or has happened around you. J K Rowling came up with Harry Potter on a train, watching kids play around (or something like that). If you’re going to a foreign country, write about an exchange student who gets lost in a big strange city and gets captured by that country’s mafia. You can also be inspired by memories; when I was littler my family and I stayed a week at a cabin on Lake Superior. I could write about a girl who lives with her grandmother by a lake and meets a strange girl in the woods. Things that happen to others are also sources of inspiration! Friends, family, even celebrities. Don’t be afraid to obsessively stalk someone to find some interesting ideas! And as you can see, the plot doesn’t have to be exactly like it’s real-life equivalent.
Obviously there are more methods, these are just the major ones I use. If I find some more good ones I will post them 🙂