It’s been theorized that there are only seven basic plot lines that have been told over and over again across cen-turies. The author John Gardner pared those plots down to only two: Someone goes on a journey, or, a stranger comes to town. So how do you work within the constraint of limited plots to write stories that are fresh and unique?
“How do you get your ideas?” Many writers say that is the question they are most often asked. Neil Gaiman initially answered with flippant responses. “From the Idea-of-the-Month Club—$5 an idea!” Harlan Ellison’s answer was “Poughkeepsie” — a town in New York! Gore Vidal replied, “Anything can set things going — an encounter, a recollection. I think writers are great rememberers.” Ultimately, Stephen King had the correct answer. Where does he get ideas? “Everywhere!”
Observe & Eavesdrop!
How can you open up your mind to use your imagination? Research shows that there are specific ways to become more creative and imaginative. Watching stand-up comedy increases creativity 20%, while alcoholic beverages boost creative skills by 30%. Simply relaxing and letting your brain not pay attention opens you up to revelations and insights. Try taking a shower, going for a walk, or driving. Daydream while you go for a walk or swim. Clear your mind and be aware of ideas popping up.