Ideas come easily to some. In fact, many writers have a difficult time choosing which idea they’re going to write about at what time. Many have notebooks full of ideas they might never get a chance to use–because they’re always coming up with new ones!
For others, it’s not that easy. Many writers have one great idea, but when it comes to book two, they spend years puttering around, trying to find a second idea. Others have always wanted to write a book, but haven’t really come up with what they feel is a book worthy idea. Still others are constantly coming up with ideas but always decide they’re bad ideas halfway through.
First off, stop discrediting your own ideas, folks. You never know whether or not something is book worthy until you’ve tried to make it into a book. Second off, if you’re planning on writing a Nanowrimo novel, you need to realize that your first draft is *expected* to be sometimes awful and other times ridiculous. So, you know how everyone told you it’s silly to write a book about a purple unicorn looking for its tribe? It is silly, but do it anyways! Then you’ll truly be celebrating the Nanowrimo spirit.
If you’re really stuck for ideas, there are several ways to find new ones. You can run through the Adopt-A-Plot threads on the Nanowrimo forums, or even go to an Adopt-A-Character thread and pick a character to base your novel around. Often you’ll also find links to the same threads from previous years, so this is pretty much a storyline gold mine. I’ve gotten several plots from the Adopt-A-Plot threads myself, and it’s always entertaining to read through the threads(though it can be a major time waster).
Of course, you might not find what you’re looking for on the forums. There are dozens of other places where you can find story ideas, or you can do a simple brainstorm.
Better yet, you can do an exercise I learned from Holly Lisle. It’s called Calling down Lightning, and it’s an exercise designed to connect your left and right brains. You start by creating two columns on a piece of paper, one for left brain and one for right brain.
Under the left brain column, describe what you’re looking for. Define the genre and basic parameters of the story you want. For example, you could put “YA novel with female MC”. Make this as specific as you can. Imagine that your left brain is actually asking your right brain for help, and under right brain, write down whatever comes to you. For the previous example, your right brain might answer with “Toronto, discovers a plot to blow up her school” or something similar.
Once you’ve put in as much detail as possible for your first right brain response, your left brain can ask a second question. This time you might be seeking a name for your MC, for instance, or more information about her. Get your right brain to fill in the details, and then your left brain can ask another question.
Using this technique, you can shape an entire book. By bringing the right brain and left brain into direct communication–or at least appearing to–this technique allows you to figure out your genre, your characters and your story. Whether you take these ideas and turn them into a proper outline or you just draw on them as they are is up to you. Either way, by the end of this exercise you should have a pretty good starting point for your novel.