Story Ideas

With NaNoWriMo fast approaching, I wanted to talk about the process where I develop my own ideas into stories. For the purpose of this I will use a sample idea and work it through.

Coming up with a story idea

This is the single easiest part of the story for me. I get story ideas from everywhere all the time. From television, movies, other books, going for walks and hearing the news. The commonly held belief among “Experts” is that there are no new idea. Just new ways to execute them. Whether that’s true or not I don’t know. I just know that I get these cool story ideas running through my head and I can’t wait to start writing.

So here goes. My story idea is as follows: A young woman decides to visit her grandmother who has been feeling poorly. She pulls on her new red cloak and grabs a basket of goodies for dear old granny.

Sounds familiar, right?

Decide on a genre/setting

Next I settle on a genre to develop the idea further. This may sound rather strange, but it is important. A different genre and/or setting will really change how everything develops including the characters.

So I decide the genre will be a Crime/Thriller. Not something I normally dabble in, but it sounds like fun. The setting will be in an all-Portuguese neighbourhood. Any particular reason? Not really, but I have Portuguese friends and I don’t want to be cliche’ with an Italian one. 🙂


I have three main characters in my little story.

There is my female lead who I will call Adriana. She isn’t your typical young woman. She spends her days hussling pool at the local pool hall. Most nights she works the docks, rolling any drunken sailers she finds for the money in their wallets. She does this because her parents each work two jobs to try and pay the bills. She had to drop out of school to earn extra money.

Then there is granny. She’s a feisty old bird who runs numbers at the local bar which she has owned and operated for more than fifty years. She hasn’t been feeling quite herself lately because a group of “Businessmen” paid her a visit to convince her that she needed “protection”.

She convinced those men to go away with a thorough beating which they won’t soon forget. Unfortunately, she threw her back out doing so and is laid up at the moment.

The last character is an eager young rookie cop who only wants to clean up his old neighbourhood. He has his nose in everything that looks dirty and is watching young Adriana as she makes her way to see granny. He stops her to question her and decides he wants to run a sting operation to shutdown some of the crime he knows is going on.

Does this still sound like the same story you might have thought of at the beginning? It certainly deviates from the idea I had originally. Now what if I changed it to be Science Fiction? How about Romance? All I did was take an old story and twist it to the point where it wasn’t quite so recognizable. What if I had removed any reference to a red cloak?

As you can see, ideas are easy. It’s what you do with them that makes them unique. So what are you going to do for NaNo?

Personal Update

One last episode of GalaxyBillies is quickly looming on the horizon. I’m about half finished writing it and I must say, I’m excited to see how it ends. Like my listeners, I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. Granted, I do have some idea since I’m the one writing it, but since I don’t have it all plotted out, there will still be some surprises.

I’ll be glad to get it finished. After all, I’ve been living and breathing the story for more than forty weeks now. It’s time to put it to bed for a while and get working on my other projects.

That leads me to my YA novel. I really want to get the revisions done on it. I know I haven’t had the brainpower to give it everything it deserves so that is my next priority. I also have four (or is it five?) short stories to write for various anthologies in the next two months. That’s not even talking about NaNo or a secret project that I will starting very soon. All told, the next few months are going to be VERY busy.



  1. Hey Mike, thanks for this post. It was really cool to see how you took the simple story idea of Little Red Riding Hood, and twisted it around to fit a genre until it was unrecognizable. That was a great excercise, and I learned how genre can effect your story more than I was thinking. I think the main thing I got out of it was that a story idea can go in so many different directions, it was cool to see you break it down like that. I’m gonig to try my hand at the Explorers anthology that Dead Robots Society and Matthew Wayne Selnick are publishing. If I get it, it would be my first time getting paid for fiction, which would be awesome. I’m not sure if my writing skills are up to snuff for publication yet, but I really like my story idea and I’m very excited to write it. The hard part will be fitting it into 5K words. Are you trying for that Anthology as well? Best of luck in all your endeavors, can’t wait for NaNoWriMo!

  2. Hey Dan, thanks for the comment. I find it fascinating how story ideas can be adapted to the point where they are almost unrecognizable. That’s part of the fun of storytelling for me.

    I’m going to try and write a story for the Explorers anthology. It’s all going to depend on whether I can make the time or not. I’ve got five short stories I want to write in the next month or so for various anthologies so I’m going to be busy.

    Bring on NaNo! 🙂

  3. I’m actually doing the same concept. Lil Red Riding Hood, twisting it by using all the cliches, but turning them all around so that it’s unrecognizeable but you have enough sense to know that there’s a parallel to the original fairy tale.

    Interesting. Great minds truly thing alike! <3

  4. I read a story of Little Red Riding Hood on a while back, it was turned into a great little horror story. I’m not a fan of horror too much, but I really enjoyed it. Good luck with your story Huushiita, and good luck with your five Mike! Seeing you post things like this makes me determined to still release a short story podcast episode during the month of November while doing Nano. Let’s work our butts off and have some great prose to show for it; onward! Butts in chairs, hands on keyboards! 🙂

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