There’s a fun exercise that does exactly that. It might not lead to stories that will change the world but it will lead to stories that people will like to read. And who knows, you just might win a prize with one of them.
- On a small slip of paper, write a one-sentence description of a character you’d like to see in a story. Any kind of character. (A note here. The characters will probably be the kind you’d like to see in a story so some writers might describe real people while others will describe science fiction or fantasy characters. Whatever trips your trigger.) Repeat this until you have several characters. At least five, ten is better. Put them in a pile.
- Use more slips of paper to write down descriptions of places: a castle in Spain — the asteroid belt — a cottage in the woods — an apartment in New York — whatever comes to mind. Write several and put these in another pile.
- Repeat with more little slips of paper on which you write action phrases: run to town — escape the fire — climb the tower — fly the plane — You get the idea. Lots of actions here. Put them in another pile.
- Use more slips of paper to jot down lots of emotions: love — hate — fear — boredom — All you can think of and put them in a pile.
- On more slips of paper, write down several possible conclusions: they lived happily ever after — everyone dies — good triumphs — evil wins — the world is never the same again — the world isn’t annihilated. And put them in a pile.
- Take 2 slips from the character pile. You now have the 2 main characters for your story. Then take 1 from each of the other piles and you’ll have your plot. You might find you want more than 1 from the ‘action’ pile to provide lots of action for your story.
- Use your imagination to connect the slips of paper and concoct a story that will knock readers’ socks off.