As a writer, collecting the best ways to find novel inspirations is something I do nearly everyday. Writing is part of life and so my stories in my head. But in these things, I don’t think of them as best-sellers, but a work that speaks my heart the most. The words I could never say with my mouth.
I’m pretty sure you want to start writing your own novel that’s why you’re here. You want to find out the best ways to find novel inspirations and create your own best-seller.
Sure, there are various ways you can do to spark that creative and crazy head of yours to activate and produce the craziest, yet, phenomenal stories to tell others and enjoy.
Given, I compiled 61 best ways among hundreds of possibilities out there you can try and see the results whether they work for you or not. Some of these are taken from personal experience. The same methods I used to produce a series of finished works my readers love.
Billions of blogs are published every day with billions of blogs are made per day. So, it’s impossible not to get anything online because you can get whatever on the web in a single click. Probably, inspirations for your next novel lurk around there. All you have to do is to keep reading awesome stories from them.
I’ve done this at times wherein there are some parts I’ve been reading that sparks my interests. From there, I realize that “If this genre works, why can’t I write the same or much weirder than this?”
Stephen King encourages to read a lot of books to improve your writing. And this is one of the benefits if you do this more often than before if you want to gather as many ideas as you can for your next novel.
3. Overheard Dialogues In Public Place
Most of my stories I write are taken from real-life stories when I accidentally eavesdropped everywhere. Be it in coffee shops or in supermarkets. You know, there are a lot of novel inspirations around you. All you need to do is improve your keen sense and observe real people.
From celebrities to the latest cars and beauty products, there are so much you can take advantage when you try to get ideas for your next book.
Let’s say, you combine an A-list celebrity and science because you picked up two magazines on the shelves without intention. What novel idea would you think about these two extreme topics?
This is one of my favorite methods I use when I think of writing a new novel on Wattpad. Mostly from Asian movies from Korean, Chinese, to Japanese, I get tons of insights from their movies and think of endless possibilities I could make to create a unique story for my readers.
6. Drama Series
I grew up watching the Korean drama series, as well as Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese. My aunt, my mother, and sometimes my father join together in the living room and watch various series. Cry and laugh together, enjoying their stories.
Because of that, at an early age, I thought of creating my own stories just as these drama series screenwriters have done to their viewers like my family.
From there, I take the idea from one series and brainstorm of my “what ifs” to the point the story gets weirder and more unique. This is the reason why my readers love reading my books because they told me they never encountered such a story before (since Wattpad launched in 2006).
You might think you’d get nothing in joining various conversations in forums like Quora, Disqus, or Reddit. You can. I did when I reached out to Korean drama active community along with the rest of the international enthusiasts and they gave me the best insights.
All you need to do is search for topics that might strike your interest or what’s popular at the time. You might not know your next best-seller lies in their threads.
I haven’t tried this approach, though some of the authors have done this to spark their creative powers and make such awesome stories. But you can do visit different art galleries and try whether you can get the best novel inspirations from the art displays there.
Among the 61 approaches, this is the most frequent I use. In fact, I use music as a source of most of my stories apart from real-life stories from friends or family.
For example, “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA (1980) becomes the root for my book “Accidental Quest” Book 1 of the Trilogy. There are more books in my list (pending for the next 2 years) with their corresponding songs.
10. Friends & Family
My ongoing book “Trapped Prince” on Wattpad is actually taken from my sister as my muse for the main character, Sebastian Gonzales. I didn’t plan it, but as my writing goes on, I start to notice he’s resembling my own sister.
11. Writing Groups
There are some authors who prefer writing in groups and meet up in a certain location to write together. This is the common practice when you’re joining NaNoWriMo just as my writing buddy, Austin Roberto, does in the last year’s NaNoWriMo.
Perhaps you have read a quote from someone influential that provoked your beliefs or your suppressed emotions you don’t want to talk nor think about. Take a note of that quote and build a strong story from it. Because you know what, if that quote had a profound effect on you, the same goes with the others, too.
When I had a rare experience at Lantapan, Bukidnon and saw the vast mountain ranges, I remembered how exactly it feels to get tons of best novel inspirations seeing the view of pure nature with the cool breeze touching my skin.
To me, I write best when I see nature in front of me. Like vast blue sea or mountain ranges or even farmlands are enough to have in deep thoughts and write my chapters. How about you?
14. Personal Experience
One of the best ways to find novel inspirations is through recalling those moments, including the most painful and embarrassing, and convert these into a strong story with a hidden message your readers should know and learn from.
Most of my characters are my alter-egos. Alexandra Montenegro, a former notorious female assassin, from my book “Accidental Quest,” is actually taken from my desire to express my voice when I was young. Her childhood trauma is from my personal experience.
To counteract that pain, I need to create Giovanni Mendiola to let her face that fear to open herself up to others. Apparently, his persona is from my husband, who’s been typically the silent guy but he’s trying to cope with my inner struggles.
15. Diary Entries
In relation to personal experience, your diary entries are great sources for your novel inspiration. These are from personal accounts, so it’s unique to you and your readers per se.
In fact, nobody can beat that, because every one of us has this experience that only us know exactly how it was. So, you’re free from copyright problems.
My first Historical Filipino Teen Romance, “30 Days With Mr. Weirdo,” is from the real Filipino hero General Gregorio Del Pilar, one of the youngest generals in his time.
To write that book, I had to undergo in-depth research of his life to make sure I’m using the right facts, though I’m writing fiction. It doesn’t mean that though you’re writing fantasy, you can use baseless write-up.
My next novel pending this year, “Gangster Maestro,” is from my journey to the mall when I had to ship a document to the German Embassy. The character is inspired from one of their employees working there. It’s surprising to get a unique story from a short trip. How much more traveling abroad?
One of my pending books, which I have no fixed title yet, is actually taken from personal experience when one of the children climbs up our garden. I scolded that kid for doing that, which later gave me a spark, a novel inspiration indeed.
Many authors suggested to sweat out your sedentary life in writing. By doing some running or jogging around the corner activates that creativeness suppressed underneath you.
There are times when unique ideas for a novel idea comes out when you’re actually in an active state. Like when you’re sweating, your heart beats fast and your brain starts to think of endless “what-ifs” for your story. You can do this, too.
Trying to touch the sensitive topic as religion is a big risk for most authors. They know once they write something about this has opposing outcomes, especially from the religious groups.
Take Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” as an example. Though he wrote fiction, the fact he wrote something that provokes people’s belief in Catholicism, the book and even the movie faced hurdles across the globe.
But if you’re brave enough to take this as a challenge, you can write a story from it. Keep in mind the possible consequence when you do this.
A great source for your novel idea is from non-fiction resources and nothing beats with newspapers delivered right in front of your doorsteps. From opinions to business, you have lots of chances to create “what ifs” from the articles you will be reading.
I wrote two books, “Accidental Quest” and “Trapped Prince” from my lucid dreams at 2 o’clock in the morning. Whenever I have those stories in my head at the exact hour (2 am), I record it on my phone and return on it whenever I need a new novel idea.
There are a few novels I like to write later that are from my personal account. They’re from my journal entries way back 2017 wherein I wrote my struggles in eating disorder and major depression.
For my creative pursuit, I am able to build a character from those difficult moments of my life. Instead of holding on to those negative emotional baggage, I am trying to slowly let them go and make an inspiring novel out from those inner trashes I’ve been collecting all those years.
If you were able to make a story from music or from a piece of a song, you can do in poems, too. They have the same approach. You can do this on your own. Search for the one poem that struck you most and you make a story from it.
25. Shakespearean Works
If tragedy and death are your interests, then, Shakespearean works are your best references. Familiar with “Romeo and Juliet” or “Hamlet?”
Either Greek or Roman or those from the Medieval Period, you can take a certain philosophy someone like Plato or Socrates adhere and think of what situations you can create. A situation so difficult your protagonist longs for escape from that misery by whatever means. Fantastic idea, right?
Take Beowulf, for example, or Don Quixote. In the Philippines, under the Basic Education Curriculum, the English, European Literature are typically discussed at the beginning of the academic year. This has been repeated over the years until college.
Because of that, I can credit those fantastic old pieces of literature (outside the Philippines), responsible for the ideas in most of the stories I write.
28. Success Stories
You can make those people’s success stories as your novel inspiration just as you did with your personal experiences (I’ve explained earlier). Perhaps, you have read about a survivor of the deadliest typhoon in the newspaper. You can take that as a reference for your next book.
If not, you can take advantage of how a self-made billionaire succeeds in the industry from his poverty. Using that as your basis, add a bit of romance and a bit of suspense, there you have it. A story.
29. Authors’ Life Stories
See no. 28.
30. Non-Fiction Stories From Google
In one of my novel ideas collected since 2017, I got the idea of Captain Tomohiro, my protagonist of an untitled book (temporarily Tomohiro’s Lost Book), from a real-life story of a Japanese man. He’s one of the generals permitted to conquer one of the islands in Leyte, Philippines during the Second World War.
His story of undeniable compassion towards the Filipinos whom he supposed to live in terror under his command struck me to the point where I have to create a story about him. Well, in fact, I only found him after a random search on Google.
31. “What If” Daydream
Most of the authors, including the seasoned ones, have been reminding the new authors to keep asking “what if” whenever they create a plot. It’s true. Instead of having a plain and predictable storyline, ask hypothetical questions until the conflict becomes too difficult for your protagonist.
32. Brainstorming Novel Ideas In A Coffee Shop
Whenever my sister invites me to have a cup of coffee in Starbucks, I always sit in the same spot. This is where my brainstorming takes place while I am having fun observing people coming in and going out with their families and friends.
This is the same approach I do whenever I finish the new book and have to write a new one. From “Accidental Quest” to “The Rival,” I create those from my pocket notebook filled with bullet points.
When I arrive home, I review my notes and create an outline from it. From there, I’d know from the beginning how much would I need to finish the book. In that way, I can have a deadline assigned for myself, which I need to work on and follow.
33. Coffee Shop Stories
See no. 3.
34. Collection (Ransom Riggs)
I remember Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series, collecting old photos with unknown stories. According to him, he’s been fond of collecting them from flea markets, apparently, worth of cents.
Because he wanted to know the situation of the persons in the photos, unfortunately, remained unknown up to this point, he created his own. Thus, the peculiar children existed.
35. See Ordinary Situations & Turn Into Extraordinary
When you’re a writer, you’re aware that your keen sense towards others is sharper than the average people, aren’t you? You have this tendency to go deeper into your thoughts by watching persons passing by. You observe how they look, how they act, how they talk, etc.
Using that skill as an advantage, crafting an extraordinary story out from this mundane can be a great and profound experience. It’s possible. I did that when I was sitting in front of a bookstore while waiting for my sister to arrive.
Upon waiting for her to come, I leaned against the wall and crossed my legs with my phone in my hand with the notepad application open.
When the persons sitting beside were busy skimming through social media, I got a wonderful storyline for one of my pending books to write, “Finding The Death Princess,” a sci-fi romance novel I plan to start working in a few months (after finishing the ones listed in early 2019).
36. Read Something You Hate
I hated reading Teen Fiction for whatever reasons I have. I guess my subconscious withdraws the corny, cheesy, and petty plotlines most authors wrote. That doesn’t mean I generalize everyone though. But most of the authors’ works I’ve read in the bookstores are filled with tropes.
Yet, I tried reading some of them with an open mind. While reading them, writing my own version of Teen Fiction became a sudden thought. “Why not try writing a teen romance, Mecyll?” I told myself. I tried and it became “30 Days With Mr. Weirdo.”
37. Social Interaction
See no. 3, it’s similar
38. Take Notes Of Random Things
See no. 32.
39. Real Life Issues
See no. 21.
40. Day Job
If you think you can’t get an idea of a unique office romance right in your cubicle, you’re wrong. Have a skill most of the writers do, eavesdropping. *smiles*
If you want to begin writing it, learn how to begin even if you’re stuck at 9 to 5.
41. Personal Interest (Might Have Forgotten)
When I was younger, I used to be in a choir. I was a soprano back then. However, due to filial reasons, my parents had to pull me out from my club and forget that dream of performing in front of the audience.
The same thing happened when I was in high school. So, when I reached college, I already convinced myself I had to quit the dream of becoming a singer and proceed to things I thought were more valuable.
Fast forward to this day, I only sing during a few family occasions in a videoke machine and not really performing in front of a crowd like I used to.
Because of that, I created a character in one of my works that would make that persona on my behalf. A character who’s a former soprano, who’s currently and secretly suffering from a rare disease.
42. Move Somewhere New
Write in different locations to keep a fresh perspective. Others go abroad or travel somewhere else in the country to keep new ideas going.
43. Field Work
See no. 40.
44. Familiar Places/Things
Even a single familiar object, as simple as a handkerchief, is enough to spark a new idea for your next novel. I found mine in an old pocket watch my husband found in one of his packages.
Find something ordinary, perhaps your old diary or your grandmother’s old photo, as a valuable object to start brainstorming a nice story from it. It’d be great.
45. Curiosity In Weird Things
When you explore YouTube, you see a lot of crazy things going on from the most err…stupid people across the globe. Even on social media, you find a lot of them. But, even in the weirdest things you see in these platforms, maybe you can spot a hidden gem underneath and write a great novel about it.
46. Extended Metaphors
Wikipedia defines extended metaphors as a series of comparison of two unlike things (without the use of as or like unlike simile) within sentences, lines, or paragraphs. “My life is a filing cabinet,” for example. There are many resources to explain this further.
47. Medical Conditions
Take “A Walk to Remember” from the USA, “One Liter of Tears” from Japan, or “Autumn in My Heart” from South Korea. These are movie and series respectively, talking about the deadly, incurable disease.
You know them, cancer or rare degenerative diseases. These types of medical conditions will surely make your readers bawl. If this is your thing (like I do), this is the best approach for your novel in the future.
48. Little Moments Of Your Life
See no. 14, 35, and 44.
49. Book Sales/Flea Market
Like Ransom Riggs, I’ve been a fan of book sales since I got into the university. Because in these types of locations, you can find treasure. Lots of ideas from old things you can only see at flea markets.
50. Other Occupations
When I entered the courier office to ship my package to the German Embassy (as stated in no. 17), I noticed the employees while they received the documents and packed them for shipment.
“Do you want to party, guys?” the only male employee among the roses said while printing the receipt with my tracking code. “We’re stuck here working while others enjoy the Christmas break.”
That moment I had in mind was, “What if I make my protagonist a worker of a courier company and shipped something that will make her life worst?”
As soon as I met my family again to eat lunch, I recorded that scene in my pocket notebook and thought of combining itty-bitty details of my previous notes and the one I just wrote.
Eureka! My book idea for “Gangster Maestro” (the next book I’ll write after “Trapped Prince”) was born.
51. Grandparents/Parents’ Stories
This point somehow relates to my previous point about history and friends, however, I’d like to add something here. If you want more unique stories, you can ask your grandparents or your parents about their lives. Certainly, you can pick up something that will spark your potential Historical Fiction.
52. (Really Long) Car/Bus Rides
I thought doing this would make me an odd person. But many of the writers tend to do this all the time. For whatever reason, the long distance travel by car makes me wonder a lot of things to the point I won’t notice what’s going on around me. Especially if I see nature along the way. That makes me more indulged to enjoy the view rather than talking to my family.
Writing about death is something that I like, but it’s emotionally draining. Of course, for obvious reasons, it brings sorrow and pain. Writing scenes in the chapters containing these makes me want to prepare ahead of time because I know I’ll be physically weak afterward.
This is what happened to me when I wrote one of my books. I didn’t realize how these affect me holistically that I need to take days for a break to rejuvenate.
In contrary, death can be a source of positivity and happiness depending on the context of your story. If this is your thing, gathering as many eulogies as you can be a good method to create a story for your next novel. One of the great ways to find novel inspirations indeed.
54. Imagine People’s Lives Opposite Of Their Current Situation
See no. 31.
55. Create A Title Then Build A Character
The majority of the authors say don’t create the title before writing your story. For me, I do the reverse. I decide the book idea and the title first before I commence the writing phase. If this system works for you, great! We’re on the same boat, my writing buddy.
See no. 53.
57. Mix Cliches And Turn Them Into An Odd Idea
See no. 45.
58. Creating Evilest Character From Dread
One of my favorite approaches when creating a new story for my next book is to create a phenomenal protagonist. Here’s the catch. Making the lead character the evilest one.
My sister loves “Overlord.” It’s a popular Japanese manga series that recently ended with the main lead that fits the description. If you’re curious about him, google it and you’ll see yourself what I’m talking about.
59. Positivity In A Deadly Disease
See no. 47.
60. Positivity In Destruction (man-made and natural causes)
In relation to my previous point about turning ordinary events into extraordinary, it’s a theme of destruction made by man. The point is for me, as an author of the book, I have to harness the lead character’s evil plan to bring out the positive outcomes he expects.
No matter how many people try to pull him down because of the massive damages he did in the world, he knows the humankind will thank him because of his initiative in the end.
In your opinion, how would you create a story of positivity for your readers out from an incredibly destroyed planet or universe because of your main character’s endeavor, for example?
Name all the movies, series, or books with their pets as the protagonist. There are lots of these works made from real-life situations wherein their furry friends made an impact in their lives. Both positive and negative.
Fortunately, most of these are on the bright side. In contrast, most of them end up in trouble because of human’s poor decisions or limitations.
“Hachiko,” for example. The dog becomes loyal to his master, however, in the end, he dies waiting for him to come back.
I know there are more best ways to find novel inspirations and begin writing your future best-sellers. In this post, I compiled 61 of them which I think will help you as you write your own works.
Overall, I’d like to point out the lean meat of this post, apart from sharing what other writers have been doing to keep their writing journey going.
Regardless of the specific tips I shared, it all boils down to how you harness and develop your creativity when it comes to brainstorming your plot, making it unforgettable and relatable for your readers.
You can choose which of the 61 approaches you’d like to try. You have lots of options here. But then again, for me, one of the best ways to find novel inspirations is through reflecting yourself. Your own journey, belief, and values you want to share to your readers and learn as they move on towards life.
That’s your responsibility as a writer. Your words make an impact on the world. It’s up to you how to use it, good or bad. The weight of your obligation is heavy, so it’s very important to make stories that are fun and at the same time leave a great impression and lesson.
You may create the fictional world for them, but you, as an author of that story, need to keep in mind that in that world you’re building you inculcate real lessons with the real characters that can relate to your readers’ lives and hurdles.
If you want to start and commit to the incredible journey to novel-writing, get your FREE eBook of my Ultimate Novel-Writing Guide to get you started.