July 19, 2012

How to Find Story Ideas



As a freelance writer I’m often asked Where do you get your story ideas? I must say I have no problem, which is why I avoid any workshop or group that examines sources of story ideas.

I’ll skip past the boring answer—that the newspaper editor suggests them—my editors rarely assign me stories, as I submit sufficient story ideas to avoid that.

Below is a list of story sources and the story they yielded.

  • Talking with my doctor during an appointment: a New Year’s Day story on his marriage proposal
  • Walking about the neighborhood: a story about a semi-annual trash day from the viewpoints of trash gatherers and trash providers
  • Observation of neighborhood activities: Watching  the Armory from my upstairs study window peaked my curiousity about the history of the Armory
  • Attending writer’s groups: a story on Celtic spirituality
  • Referrals from people I’ve interviewed: a horn-playing woman
  • Attending meetings:
  • Eavesdropping: story about a Grand Slam—hunting four different kinds of bear
  • At the neighborhood diner: story of a man who was healing from a tragic accident
  • Banking: story of a pregnant woman who suffered injuries from a terrific accident which left her with leg amputation
  • Newspaper articles:  Collection of bear stories
  • Sitting on my front porch: people come to me with story ideas
  • Family situations: My being discovered by a sister my mother released for adoption
  • Journaling: Sometimes just a record of what a day brings
  • Genealogy: Charles F. Walker, a Civil War Veteran whose gravesite does not have a requisite paper trail
  • Attending events: a Native American speaks at a local event; Blue Angel air show
  • “I want to know” subjects: heart disease in women
  • Photographs: a house being moved by barge down the Piscataqua River (divides New Hampshire and Maine at Portsmouth, New Hampshire)
  • Meeting a challenge: write a six-word story

Mostly, story ideas come from knowing that each person has a story, and in being aware of the fact that if I am interested in a subject, someone else will also be interested.

Story ideas surround us. Look around and pluck out an idea that interests you and start writing.


Where do you find stories you like to write about? Share your search results in the comment box below.



A Popular Author’s Love Affair With the Word ‘AND’: Part A

Six-Word Stories

Two Haikus: Cardiac Ultrasound Inspired


THE ART OF THE INTERVIEW: Things Writers Should Know


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