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Generating Ideas

It’s a perverted fact of the universe that writers are sometimes stumped about what to write. Give them a snappy first line in a timed writing exercise, and they jump in, keyboard clicking furiously, and then wow you with what they read out loud.

But for an original story? Um. A novel for crying out loud? Um, indeed.

Not that I’m talking about myself, you understand. Of course not.

But we shall fret no more, because there are three–count ’em, three–chances to shake loose your story ideas in a small, brilliant conference this weekend. And  if there’s no way you can pack up and get to Wenatchee, I’ll close this post with an idea-generating strategy of my own.

First the conference: This Friday through Sunday. Sunny side of Washington State, nestled between Cascade foothills and the Columbia River. Fiction, nonfiction, indie publishing, traditional. Fun. First class presenters. To learn more and to register, click here: Write on the River Conference.

Among much else, we’ll have three nifty sessions on generating ideas.

Matthew Sullivan

Matthew Sullivan

  1. Power Up Your Writing Imagination – led by novelist Elizabeth Fountain

  2. Generating Ideas from Our Lives – Matthew J. Sullivan, literary mystery writer

  3. Generating Ideas from the World – Matthew again

Join us for these sessions and others, tailored to inspire, draw out your best ideas and encourage interaction and sharing.

And my tip? Take a tour through a list of short story titles. Not for the stories, but for the titles. (Short story titles are often more creative and mysterious than ones for novels. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because less seems to be at stake, and people feel free to experiment.)

I often find my mind waking up and energized by titles. What story would *I* tell, given that title? Such as the following, but pick your own, because you’ll know which titles set you to dreaming:

  1. The Hell Bound Train (Robert Bloch)

  2. Scyilla’s Daughter (Fritz Leiber)

  3. The Bagfull of Dreams (Jack Vance)

  4. The Woman Who Loved the Moon (Elizabeth Lynn)

  5. Unicorn Tapistry (Suzy McKee Charnas)

  6. Wong’s Lost and Found Emporium (William F. Wu)

  7. Pity the Monsters (Charles de Lint)

  8. Every Angel is Terrifying (John Kessel)

  9. Travels with the Snow Queen (Kelly Link)

All are winners of the World Fantasy Award for short story, by the way. I’m a judge this year and wow, the titles!


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