50 Ways to Gather Book Ideas | Third Thursday #SCBWIsocial Blog Link Up

Okay. Don’t panic, but for those of us who plan on participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month,) … we only have 46 days until it begins. Well, 47 if we count today. (I’m totally counting today.)

Perhaps 47 days sounds like plenty of time, but I need to finish a novel plus there’s that mile-long to-do list left over from our crazily chaotic summer and I have no clue what to write despite that fact that I’ve been challenging myself to write down a new book idea every day this year. So yeah. I’m a tad worried.


Okay, maybe a lot worried.

If you are feeling the same post-NaNoWriMo stress, then let’s all take a collective breath … in, out … and handle things one step at a time.

STEP ONE: Come up with a Killer Book Idea!

SCBWI-social-badge-300x300This is the topic for today’s edition of #SCBWISocial Third Thursday … which I have embarrassingly dropped the ball on in August, due to said crazy chaotic. My sincerest apologies! But now that life is somewhat back to normal, I’m using our September theme: Harvesting Ideas – Where Do You Get Them From? for those of us who’ve yet to figure out what to write about in November. Then next month, we’ll share plotting tips in accordance with October’s NaNoWriMo/PiBoIdMo – Get Ready to Go theme.

Until then, let’s start things off with my list of:

50 Ways to Gather Book Ideas!


1. Eavesdrop! Without being creepy or rude, of course, because that’s, like, not cool.

2. Try mind mapping and see where that big, beautiful brain of yours takes you! Don’t know what mind mapping is? Read this or this.

3. Brainstorm a list of amazing, dynamic, eye-popping first lines. Don’t worry about where the rest of the story will go for now. Just be crazy with this one!

4. Read some headlines. Cliché idea, but it works.

5. Think about your own childhood. What was your absolute best day? Or your worst day?

6. Your best holiday memory … or your worst holiday memory.

7. Think about your most embarrassing moment. (I have lots to choose from.)

8. What was the most amazing vacation you’ve ever had? Worst vacation?

9. Have tea and a chat with an elderly person and ask them what their best day, worst day, best holiday, worst holiday, most embarrassing moment, best vacation, or worst vacation as a kid was.

10. Dig out your old school yearbooks and go down memory lane.

11. Think about the ways your parents embarrassed you. Or your grandparents. Or siblings. Siblings can be great for that.

12. What’s your passion, cooking? Dancing? Fishing? Running? (That’d be me.) Bird Watching? Bee Keeping? Think of something funny, ironic, dangerous, or weird about your passion and see which direction it takes you.

13. Think about the best teacher you’ve ever had. Or the worst. Or meanest. Scariest. No, no, wait, I got it … the worst, meanest, SCARIEST teacher that your PARENTS thought was the best, there you go, now THAT’S topic!

14. Take a trip to a book store or library. Grab books that catch you eye and write down the reasons why.

15. Spend some time watching book trailers on YouTube … not to steal ideas, but for inspiration!

16. Surf photo websites like Shutterstock or iStockphoto and see what jumps out at you. Or try entering random words in the search box like carnivals, playgrounds, beaches, pickles, daisies, aprons, hop scotch, monkeys, or what have you.

17. Remember your best friend in elementary school. And the kid who everyone picked on. And the popular kid. The mean kid. The scared kid. The mean, popular kid who picked on your best friend but who is actually scared.

19. Think of your favorite book as a child. Why was it your favorite? What elements did it have that made you read it again and again and again?

20. Go to a park with a notepad. Or a mall. Town festival. Bowling alley. Fabric store. Inspiration is everywhere!

21. Think of your favorite recipe. Or something your grandmother used to bake. Or the first dessert your mother let you make all by yourself. I don’t really know why I’m listing this one. Maybe because I’m hungry and I’d like a piece of cake.

22. Meditate. Breathe deep, empty your mind, and see what sparks. Or hey, want to get deep? Okay, then try lying on the floor while blasting your favorite moody, deeply emotional song. (True story: my mom and I used to do this while listening Simon & Garfunkel’s I Am A Rock. Now that’s deep, y’all.)

23. Think of your favorite minor character, one who hasn’t gotten the spotlight he/she deserves. Give them that spotlight and let them shine!

24. Take a fairy tale and twist it until it’s taffy. With whipped cream. And chocolate sprinkles. What, taffy doesn’t have whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles? Well, yeah, duh, that’s because it’s twisted!

25. Write down a list of the corniest, hokiest clichés you can think of. Add to that a touch of twisted fairy tale. Or a monster. Or an animal with an identity crisis. You know I like them.

26. Buy the most ridiculous, truth-stretching gossip magazine you can find. (We call they trashies.) Grab a cup of coffee and give that trashy a good read, seeing if anything sparks.

27. How about trying some good ole’ writing prompts. I love the Writing Challenge App. Story is a State of Mind has some great ones, too.

28. Dig out your old notepads or folders that hold all the book ideas that you’ve scribbled down over the years. I know you have one. Every writer has one. Who knows what it holds?

29. Go for a walk. Or a hike. Better yet, go for a walk or hike WITHOUT a notepad, because we all know that’s when you get your best ideas! (But secretly hide pen and paper in your back pocket to write it down on.)

30. Head somewhere that offers prime people watching and play What’s Your Story? (I really don’t have to explain that game, do I?)

31. Spend some time scouring movie blurbs at IMDb. (Again. Not to copy, but to be inspired!)

32. Think about the person who’s been the best influence in your life. Or the worst.

33. Knock the dust off of your failed manuscripts, (we all have a pile … and mine is rather large,) and think about why it didn’t work. Has time away given you new inspiration and better direction?

34. Read the obituaries and think of what has happened to those left behind.

35. Watch a documentary.

36. Imagine what your dog is thinking right now. Or cat. Bird. Lizard. Boa constrictor … although why oh why do you have a boa constrictor???

37. Play around at Random Story Title Generator 2.0.

38. Go to Pinterest and search “Book Ideas” and prepare for the next three hours of your life to be sucked down the Pinterest. drain.

39. Grab a cup of coffee and scan all the books on your shelves, just to see if inspiration hits.

40. Put the cart in front of the horse by imaging a killer book trailer that would make people want to read that book. What elements were used?

41. Think about the most dynamic person you’ve ever met. Amplify their quirks by a thousand and tell their story.

42. Play around with this Plot Generator.

43. Or this one: WritingExercises.co.uk

44. And maybe this one at Writers Den.

45. Keep a journal of personal stories and memories, like the time your parents told you they were taking you to a Baltimore Orioles game, which causes you to whine nonstop in the car, only to later feel really crappy when your realize they’re taking you to Kings Dominion Amusement Park! (Or maybe that just happened to me.)

46. As a friend, family member, or significant other if they have any great book ideas for you. (I do realize that this might be opening a can of worms seeing as how you might hate their idea, but hey. You never know. They could have a gem!)

47. House clean. I realize this is a weird suggestion, but I always get my best ideas while house cleaning. (And bonus: Your house will sparkle afterwards.)

48. Is it appropriate to advise drinking a glass of wine?

49. This one certainly is appropriate: Take inspiration from Julia Cameron and write Morning Pages every day for a week and see what shakes loose in your head! Why Morning Pages are awesome:

50. And finally, take Julia’s advice and go on an artist date to refuel! A museum. Movie. Open mic night at a café. Poetry reading. Open your mind and soak in those artistic juices that will help you…


Want to join in with this month’s Third Thursday #SCWBIsocial Blog Link up? Awesome, leave a link to your blog post in the comments below! I will then insert them at the bottom of this post.


About Laura Bowers

Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger/vlogger at Write, Run, Rejoice and Joyful Miles, mom of two awesome boys, wife of one fantastic husband, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She loves run-on sentences and adverbs. She also still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.
This entry was posted in Writing & Drawing Exercises, Writing Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 50 Ways to Gather Book Ideas | Third Thursday #SCBWIsocial Blog Link Up

  1. Carleen M. Tjader says:

    Awesome ideas and tips for finding more! One has already sparked my imagination, thanks!

  2. mikecrowl says:

    Laura, I really, really need this right now. I’ve been beating the first chapter of my MS to death in an attempt to get 10 pages that make an agent ask for 10 more. It’s driving me nuts. Maybe–just maybe, mind you–I’ll have a crack at a couple of these ideas to see if I can shake something loose in this cobweb-infested head of mine. Nice post! Coming up with 50 ideas for coming up with ideas is an accomplishment all by itself.

  3. L. H. says:

    This might sound a little nuts but I walk through town at dawn. I let my imagination run full tilt until the sun rises.

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