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Fiction Story Generator - A Low-Tech Writer's Aid

Updated on May 2, 2013
AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

Adele Cosgrove-Bray is a writer, poet, and artist who lives on the Wirral peninsula in England.

Looking for Story Ideas?

Do you want to write but feel short on ideas? Are you a member of a writers circle looking for monthly writing projects? Or are you simply stuck in a rut with your writing, and seeking a way out of the doldrums?

This economical and easy-to-make low-tech fiction story generator will fix that. This useful tool for writing exercises will provide a huge quantity and variety of story ideas simply and quickly.

All you have to do then is get writing!

Discover more gifts for writers at Spooky Cute Designs!
Discover more gifts for writers at Spooky Cute Designs!
Discover the Artisan-Sorcerer Series
Discover the Artisan-Sorcerer Series | Source

The Artisan-Sorcerer Series

To the public they are artists, creating beauty in their shared Liverpool home. In private, they are members of an ancient occult order riddled with intrigues and power struggles.

Will Morgan keep them safe in their turbulent world of dark magic?

Each character steps up to reveal their story - and their piece of the hidden history of the mysterious order which dominates their lives.

How to Make the Story Generator

You will need three small containers of some kind. Plastic tubs will be fine, such as old margarine tubs (washed and dried, of course.) Or you could use three sandwich bags or paper grocery bags, for example.

You will also need some paper - ordinary printer paper or typing paper will do. You might want to use three different colours of paper, one colour for each container. Or you could use three different colours of ink if you prefer. Neither of these are necessary, however.

You will need to Copy and Paste into Word (or an equivalent program) each of the three lists below. You may find it easier to use double-line spacing, as after you have printed each list you are going to cut out each word or short phrase individually and put each group into one of the containers.

Don't mix up your three lists. This is why you might prefer to use different colours for each.

Activity List - the 'What' of a Story

Dancing, sailing, decorating, reading, gardening, watching a film, dining, walking, running, hiding, laughing, exploring, photographing, making a telephone call, arguing, carrying a parcel, sharing a secret, sunbathing, worrying, rehearsing, hunting, riding a bicycle, cooking, watching crowds, crying, trekking, bullying, rushing, planning, travelling, threatening, studying, destroying, sculpting, shopping, driving, grieving, celebrating, scheming, sewing, cleaning, talking, swimming, fighting, looking for a lost item, working, lounging, horse-riding, ice-skating, camping, doing a crossword, mending an object, knitting, teasing, walking a dog, waiting, playing chess, collecting.

Location List - the 'Where' of a Story

Beach, woodland, mountain, park, cottage, indoor shopping centre, school, bedsit, office, bus, villa, hotel, luxury apartment, staircase, alley, fountain, pub, village green, bank, orchard, theatre, stables, formal gardens, cafe, country road, hairdressing salon, law court, caravan site, restaurant, farm, historic country house, distillery, factory, studio, town monument, garage, library, cave, train station, dockside terminal, church, hospital, pre-historic stone circle, kitchen, airport, vineyard, museum, bar, vegetable allotment, penthouse suite, island, castle, nightclub, animal sanctuary, work's canteen, monastery, car park, art gallery, observatory, derelict house, motorway, scrap yard, market.

Person List - the 'Who' of a Story

Dreamer, witch, ballet dancer, teacher, nurse, artist, accountant, traffic warden, florist, journalist, radio DJ, shop assistant, care worker, street sweeper, historian, sailor, tailor, printer, lorry driver, potter, fortune-teller, comedian, janitor, street entertainer, trainee, celebrity, plumber, electrician, builder, mechanic, architect, sceptic, politician, scientist, amateur inventor, musician, doctor, campaigner, volunteer, tourist, liar, joker, angry man, laughing man, angry woman, laughing woman, playing child, noisy child, police, soldier, pilot, grocer, fashion designer, hairdresser, shoe mender, hotelier, cleaner, web designer, thief, vicar, animal lover, newspaper vendor, pianist, carpenter, horticulturalist, cartoonist, drunkard.

How to Use the Story Generator

After you have cut out each word or short phrase of the above lists, place each set in a separate container and give them a stir. Then pick one from each container - without looking!

The activity, location and person lists give you the 'What, Where and Who' of a story. For example, the first of each of the lists here give us Dancing, Beach, Dreamer. It is now your task to ask questions and use your imagination to create the 'Why' of the story.

In our example, we have a dreamer dancing on a beach. Is this person dreaming of dancing on a beach, or is this someone whose head is in the clouds? Why are they dancing? What are they dancing to? Are they on their own, or are other people nearby - and if so, are they playing music, sharing food, sunbathing or enjoying a summer's evening?

Where is this beach? It could be anywhere in the world, or on another world - you choose! And how did the people get there?   Where will go they later?  Let your imagination play with the ideas.

If you feel you wish to add a second main character, you can dip into the 'Who' container again. Or if you want something specific to happen next and can't think of anything, draw another paper slip from the 'What' container.

Add more words and phrases to your containers if you wish. You may want to add words which are more specific to the kind of fiction you like to write.

You can use this story generator time and time again.  Even if you use it only for creative writing exercises, you will find it a useful resource for ideas.  Its main purpose is to start a story off, to give a writer a definite starting point.  After that, it is entirely down to each writer and their own imagination as to how they build from that point.

Give it a try, and let me know how you get on.

© 2010 Adele Cosgrove-Bray


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    • AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

      Adele Cosgrove-Bray 5 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

      Try it and see! I suspect, though, that the low-tech story generator might work better for purely ficional work.

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 5 years ago

      Thank you very much for this idea! I personally don't need it, but it is definitely a good idea to share with other writers! Can this also be applied to scholarly articles?

    • AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

      Adele Cosgrove-Bray 6 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

      You're welcome, htodd. I hope you have fun using the story generator.

    • htodd profile image

      htodd 6 years ago from United States

      Thanks for the nice post..

    • psychlist profile image

      psychlist 7 years ago from East Tennessee

      What a useful idea! Thanks!

    • AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

      Adele Cosgrove-Bray 7 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

      Fun and very economical, AC. I'm glad you liked the idea.

      It's a handy tool for writers groups when ideas run dry. I hope you'll come back to let people know how your group got on with it.

    • ACSutliff profile image

      ACSutliff 7 years ago

      This one is getting bookmarked, Adele! I can't wait to get started! I will be taking this to my writer's group. We never do any writing at the actual meeting, and this would be a fun way to make it happen.



    • Falsor Wing profile image

      Falsor Wing 7 years ago from Lodoss the Accursed Isle

      Its like madlibs for ACTUAL STORIES!

    • AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

      Adele Cosgrove-Bray 8 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

      I'm glad you liked this low-tech alternative! This story generator has been used during writers' workshops, when there's a bunch of people sat with an ordinary paper notepad in their lap, and it has proved popular.

    • Singular Investor profile image

      Singular Investor 8 years ago from Oxford

      Neat idea ADele - I was expecting a computer program that would do all the work for me but cups and bits of paper is cool too !