Where do writers get their ideas? That’s a good question, one that varies from writer to writer. I’ve had ideas spring up from dreams, conversations, from reading novels, and all manner of sources.
But how can you generate ideas when the well is dry? I was asking myself this today and decided to research the variety of tropes and genres out there. As a writer, I am constantly trying to improve my craft and expand my understanding of story structure, character development, and the mechanisms of what it takes to create a great story. Through my writing group, my eyes have been opened to the vast world of literary genres and sub-genres that I never realized existed.
My curious mind led me to research examples of tropes and genres to see what was out there and what they all meant. I’ve heard references being made to categories of writing unknown to me and, as a voracious researcher, I spent a deal of time investigating. What I realized is browsing through tropes and genres could be a perfect starting point for a writer to start generating ideas for future projects.
For example, Fantasy can fit into several categories, each different than the other: Young Adult, Epic, High, Dark, Portal, Quest, etc. When you research a genre and its categories, reading into their descriptions, you might find your imagination stimulated by some and less by others.
When researching tropes, I came across a number that got my creative wheels spinning, asking the what-ifs necessary to plot creation: boy pretends not to love girl but actual does, love triangle, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, coming of age, rags to riches, fairytale retelling, overcoming the monster, voyage and return, etc.
When you investigate tropes, you can determine which ones interest you and which ones you would like to expand upon in your own writing. It can help direct your storytelling since there is a formula ingrained in each trope. What changes is the setting, the characters, the little details that are personalized by you the author (or, in my case, by your characters. I’m NOT crazy! When I write, though, the characters tend to come alive and at some point run away with the telling of their own story. It’s actually quite fun).
If you find yourself stuck without anything to write, perhaps try this trick to see if it stimulates ideas or characters for your own writing.
Have fun, enjoy the journey and keep writing!
—Vanessa Marie Caron