How to Find Your Novel Idea

Wondering what to write about?


Your passion is writing. You’ve been writing for as long as you can remember. Your ultimate dream is to write a novel.MWS1-Tips - What to Write About

Or maybe you’re a newcomer to writing. You’ve made the recent discovery that writing a novel is something you really want to accomplish in life.

But you somehow … you don’t know what to write about. Where should you start?

Maybe I can help you out.


Writing a novel is one of the most awesome things you could ever choose to do. Not easy … but awesome. You just have to think of an interesting idea. Don’t worry that someone else has already done it … or that someone may come behind you and do it better … You just focus on writing your story your way.

This series of  seven tips is designed to help writers get started. Perhaps after you write one book, you’ll realize that you have another story in you … and another one after that.

But getting your first novel written is the biggest challenge.


Inspiration is everywhere. Here are some creative ways to look around and find out what to write about.


Tip #1: Your Novel Idea, i.e., Finding What to Write About!


Starting a novel can be a daunting task. Kinda scary, in fact. You open a brand new document on your word processing screen – or open a journal to page one if you prefer pad and pen – and then you stare at the empty page. Your mind goes blank.

You thought you had a lot to say. The words were flowing through your mind when you were on your way to your desk, when you were picking out that journal in the bookstore.

Now all the words you thought you had inside have suddenly vanished.

Intimidating, right?

Don’t worry, you can do this! Inspiration for a good story idea can be found anywhere … and everywhere! Here are some ideas for generating your story:

  • Public Observation. Spend some time people watching in your favorite coffee shop or mall eatery or a city park. Observe people’s body language and listen to their conversations. Look at that couple over there, sitting together but always looking away from each other. Are they meeting for the first time? Angry with each other? Ill-matched? Disappointed? What kind of story could they live out in your novel?
  • Personal Expertise. Think about jobs you have held or expertise you’ve developed in a particular area. What hobbies or interests do you have that your main character could share?
  • Other Writers. Read something classic. Other writers’ brilliance can inspire your creativity!
  • Memorable Experiences. What challenging or tragic situations have you (or someone you know) faced that would make an interesting story?
  • Museum or Magazine. Take a trip to an art museum and look at the paintings (or review some paintings online). Choose one and develop a story about the subject of the painting. Or look at a magazine and do the same exercise.
  • Social Networks. Peruse social networks like Instagram and Pinterest for photos and pictures that capture your interest and set your creativity adrift. Ask questions about the people in the photos or the place that you see. There’s a story in there, hiding in plain sight! (Understand and respect copyrights!)

Those are just a few ways you kind find inspiration for your story. Maybe you already have something in mind but it’s not quite clear … Well, dust it off and start asking questions about it. Probe deep. Get to the heart of it.

The key is to start asking questions. The answers will come and you can begin to build your story.

Share below if you have an interesting way to find inspiration for your writing.


And for more information on writing a novel, here’s the first release of my new Masterful Writer Series, Masterful Novel Writing.
Here’s Michelle Campbell-Scott’s video for authors on narrowing down your book ideas when you have too many:


And here’s cartoonist Matthew Diffee’s humorous take on idea generation – enjoy!

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