As a writer, we are expected to always have ideas to jumpstart our stories. Sometimes the muse just isn't there and we have to look other places for those story ideas. Last year when I was thinking of possibly writing another in the Kelly Watson mysteries, I printed out a bunch of the mysterynet.net stories from contests they held for kids to write as well as some other mystery writers advice and story starters. One of the pages I printed out was "Mystery Story Starter Ideas - DIY Guide for Children and Adults" by Marillisa Sachteleben. She states there are 25 story starters but apparently I only found 10 on the first page.
Here are her starters:
THE WISHING WELL HORROR: I hated drawing water from the dank, bug-infested well house to begin with. When the bucket came up heavier and more slowly than usual, I sensed that something was wrong. But I was totally unprepared for the horror that followed.
THE BOOK SELLER'S ENIGMA: I hadn't remembered the musty old book shop on that street before, but the old peddler beckoned me. When I returned the next day with my brother, shop and shopkeeper had gone. We asked an old-timer passing by, "That shop?" he declared, "why it ain't been around for 50 years."
THE SMELL IN THE CELLAR: We kept the cellar locked. No one went down ther. One day when I went by I smelled an odd, familiar smell, like something I hadn't smelled since I was little. The odor got stronger, until finally I opened the door and went down the rickety steps.
THE MISSING PHOTO: I loved to look through our old family photos. One day, I noticed that a certain picture had been removed. I asked the whole family and no one seemed to have taken it. Was someone hiding something?
THE SECRET ROOM: Tearing down a wall to build an addition to our home, I discovered a small narrow room hidden between the walls for decades and what was in it gave me the shock of my life.
THE THING IN THE POND: For years, I've visited a pond in the woods near our house. Recently, I saw something more than sand, rocks and a few fish and turtles. Something much, much more.
THE PRANK CALLER: We thought the odd phone calls were just pranks by some local kids. Until the caller asked me something really scary. "Did anybody ever find where you buried the body?"
THE LETTER FROM YESTERDAY: The envelope that came in the mail looked really elegant and I was hoping that it was an invitation to a party. It was an invitation. For a party dated July 30, 1927.
THE SILENT BOY: We were all playing in our fort by the creek. A tall thin boy with dark eyes and long hair appeared silently from the woods. He came out every day for two weeks but he never said a word. Until one day...
THE CREATURE: My cat likes to bring home an odd assortment of creatures. Not that he kills them. I think they are his friends. One day, the cat brought home something I have never seen before in my life and I doubt that I ever will again.
I've looked at this page many times over the past 6 months but nothing really jumped off the page or screamed "new Kelly adventure/mystery" A couple of weeks back, I looked over the sheet again and decided that the Book Seller's Enigma would work. I started a new Kelly Watson story - but have only written a page and a half, which amounts to about an incomplete scene or could be a full scene. I feel there is something I need to write before this particular scene, perhaps filling in what has happened in Kelly's life during the 6 months from finding out the house she investigated was her father's to the time she finds this missing bookstore or mysterious bookshoppe. One of my editor writer friends said forget the Prologue and just write the story. If I had a direction to take the story, I think I would have written more than a page and a half, although there have been some niggles about the bookstore and the present given to Kelly. Maybe ther eis a story, I just wish it would hurry up and get out so I can get a second Kelly story under my belt.
What about you, how do you jumpstart your stories? What if the muse isn't being cooperative and you really feel the need to write a story? What all do you do to get the muse to cooperate and how do you keep the ideas flowing? Leave a message with your ideas and thoughts and be entered for a an ebook copy of Finally Home the first of Kelly's mysteries. E :)
Author of Finally Home, a Kelly Watson middle grade/YA mystery