Science fiction is the literature of big ideas — so coming up with an amazing story idea often feels like the biggest stumbling block in the way of your dreams of authorship.
Science fiction is the literature of big ideas — so coming up with an amazing story idea often feels like the biggest stumbling block in the way of your dreams of authorship. Unfortunately, most of us can't just have Robert A. Heinlein mail us $100 and a couple dozen brilliant ideas. So what do you do?
The trick is not just to come up with a great idea, but a great idea that lives in your mind and leads to characters and situations that inspire you. So here are 10 pretty decent ways to generate your own amazing story ideas.
So here are some tips, that may or may not be helpful:
1. Look at the big unanswered questions
Like, why haven't we heard from other intelligent civilizations yet?
2. Imagine a new scientific or technological discovery — and then imagine it ruining your life
Try to imagine how a brand new science could wreck your life — how it could make your life, personally, a living hell.
3. Take your biggest fear about the future and take it to an extreme
Use that fear as a way into a story about something going terribly wrong with the world in general.
4. Instead of speculating about science, try sociology or philosophy or theology.
Who are we, where do we come from, who created us, and so on.
5. Think of an act you would never approve of, then imagine a sympathetic character doing that act
It's human nature to imagine yourself doing things so terrible, they make you do a whole-body cringe/shudder. So try picking one of those actions, and imagine the protagonist of a story performing it.
6. Why can't you just go and get what you want, in real life?
You, personally, have goals that you cannot achieve, that are not fictional. Now imagine a scenario where you could have all of those things — and what could possibly go wrong with that.
7. Get into a fight with a famous science fiction author
Get into a fight with Vernor Vinge with your stories.
8. State the obvious.
You can make people identify with someone who's smack in the middle of future water wars, and drive home the likelihood of water shortages without ever lecturing.
9. Come up with five non-obvious consequences of a technological or scientific breakthrough, and focus on one of them
Spend an hour or two thinking of all the possible ripple effects from a new miracle technology — and then pick one of the least.
10. Think about something you used to believe, and then imagine what if it was true
Pick a belief you used to hold, that's been disproven by events or that you've outgrown for some reason. Try to imagine a universe where that belief is provably true.
Via olsen jay nelson