Where to Find Ideas for Your Novel

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Where do authors find their ideas? From experience I can assure you a drone hasn’t delivered any of my stories to my front door or drop-shipped a complete novel into my brain. Sometimes I waken from a dream with an amazing idea, but that’s rare.

Novel ideas are everywhere. We simply must train our minds to be aware of our surroundings and how to weave life experiences into a powerful read.

The following prompts show where I’ve found story ideas. You may find a bestselling idea there too.


Never discount a dream. Place a notepad and an LED pen by your nightstand. Record those dreams because they often vanish in the light of day.

News Headlines

With todays’ technology, we receive updates about the world, nation, state, and local events within minutes. We never run out of ideas.


Friends, many of my story ideas have come from eavesdropping. Here’s a tip: in a restaurant, opt for a booth. Oh, the conversations you’ll hear. Make sure you carry a small pad and pen wherever you go.

Family History

Genealogy, old Bibles, handed-down family stories, and diaries/journals hold a wealth of information. I remember a friend who had a family journal in which a young girl was left with the care of her siblings while her parents journeyed for supplies. Billy the Kid and his gang showed up one morning. Rather than fear the gang, she cooked them breakfast. What does that tell you about the young girl?


For a writer, idle time doesn’t exist. We can put together plot and characters while the world around us has no clue what we’re doing.


I’ve received countless story ideas during hiking trips, nature walks, and drives through the countryside. The setting is peaceful and lets the mind relax so our imaginations can explore.


These are amazing what-if sessions. Check out my blog post on brainstorming. Make those moments fun and a game.


We all have favorite movies, and we also have watched movies that were a challenge to remain engaged. Both good and not-so-good inspire us to create with twists and turns beyond what’s on the screen.


All games have the potential to usher a story into our minds. Monopoly isn’t my favorite, but what if a player refuses a get-out-of-jail-free card? Consider Clue—change out the clues, the player, and the motivation. Ever observe a person who lost at a card game? How did they react? Is there a story there?


Like movies, we have our treasured books, and we have those books that maybe we couldn’t finish. The writer in us often rewrites what we’ve read into a story with no resemblance to what inspired us.

We’re all creative. What tickles your imagination and motivates you to read or write?