What should you do when you don’t have even a basic starting idea for your story?

Story structure placement is a good way to get organized. What should you do when you don’t have even a basic starting idea? Here are a few simple tips to get you moving along.

Take a walk.

Concentrate carefully on what you see. What do people look like as you pass them on the street? Note their clothing, mannerisms and attitude. What sort of car are they driving? Specific details can be good fodder for character outlines and plot progression.

Check the news.

What’s going on today? How can you use that as a jumping off point for your story? “Two Injured in Bank Robbery Attempt” can be compelling, but “Story About Amish Woman Challenge for Photographer and Reporter” can offer an equally interesting creative prompt. (Note: Web surfing can be a real time waster when writing. If it’s a challenge for you, access the internet away from your writing space, or use a non-net source for news updates. Set a time limit to keep yourself accountable.)

Pick out a keepsake object you have.

Tell a story about it. What does it look like? How did it get made? Who owned it before you did? What makes it important to you? What might make it important to someone else in your story?

Note the surroundings

Take a look out of your favorite window. Note the surroundings. What do you find the most striking? Pick out a specific part of the view. Focus more closely on a specific object or feature. Write it down. Repeat until you have a list. Pick an item from the list and start describing it in vivid detail. Pick one sentence from the description as your starting point.

Classic opening line

Find a classic opening line from your favorite piece of literature. Use it as a starting point and make it your own. Pick one from another piece of literature. Use it to start your second paragraph. Repeat as necessary. Wikipedia’s Opening Lines page is a good place to find a varied collection of good opening lines.