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Writing A Short Story: Getting Ideas

Updated on March 15, 2011

Sometimes you want to tell a story but then you get stuck in trying to get more ideas to add spice to your story. Whether you’re running out of ideas for character development, setting development or plot development, you’ve come to the right place to find tips on getting more ideas for your story.

Always bring a notebook/notepad and a pen

Let's say you are sipping coffee in a coffee shop and then you suddenly get an idea for a story. You tell yourself, "that's a good storyline". Then you come home and completely forget about it. This is why a pen and paper comes in handy for writers. Sometimes, ideas suddenly pop in our heads for a story, we need to jot it down immediately! If you don't have a piece of paper handy, jot it down on a piece of napkin or in the notes section of your cellphone or even at the back of your receipt.

Use your friends and relatives for character development

Chances are the most interesting people you will meet are part of your family or your circle of friends. Look at their personalities and their character. I'm pretty sure you will find something very interesting or very eccentric about them. Use one person's personality to develop a character in your story OR mix and match multiple people's personalities to develop a single character! The possibilities are endless. What's great about it is that you just have to look right under your nose for character development!


Again, for character development, you can sit on a park bench and just watch people pass by. Observe their qualities or the way they walk and talk. Use the most interesting quirks you can see to develop a character or characters. I personally once used a stranger I saw on the subway train to develop the antagonist of my story in my screenwriting class way back in college. My professor commended my character and asked me where I got the inspiration for it. People are very interesting to observe and you might just get enough bits and pieces of qualities and quirks to develop your character.

Look around you

This time, for setting development or to help you add more details to your setting. How can you describe the clouds? Are they fluffy and cottony or are they dark and gloomy? What can you hear? Can you hear chirping birds or growling dogs? Try to use your 5 senses to observe what's around you and use those senses to write a description of the setting in your story.

Tap into your own personal experiences

If you're really stumped about what to write about, use your personal experiences for inspiration! Have you ever been heartbroken? In love? Had a scary experience? Had a funny adventure? Use snippets of your life to create a short story. Your life is interesting, use it for ideas. :)

Life is a series of unexpected surprises. Look around.. observe.. be inspired by nature and the people around you. Create your story based on life as you see it! :)


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    • profile image

      Ahmad 6 years ago

      Like this, after reading this, I hope I can make up more stories..

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 6 years ago from Australia

      good points, thank you

    • sangre profile image

      Sp Greaney 6 years ago from Ireland

      very good advice.

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Wonderful story in here,thanks for sharing.