There’s a saying that we are all surrounded by story ideas every day but it’s only us writers who are able to spot them and make art out of them. Ever since I started writing stories for the world, I’ve been asked where I get my story ideas from. Plot, characters, twists, and setting — they come from various places. Of course, eavesdropping at coffee shops is one important source of inspiration but there’s more. Let me share mine here:
1) Interesting people I meet. They could be weird. They could be beautiful. They could be healing from a breakup or even happily married. Everyone has stories. Happy or sad, if something catches my ear and then my mind, it comes out from my pen.
2) Favourite places from my travels. My first attempt at a romance novella My Singapore Fling was born after I realised how much I love airports, especially Singapore’s Changi Airport. Then my romantic short story It Started with a Cup of Coffee was set in a coffee shop that was just like my most visited cafe in my city.
3) Social issues around me. The idea for my latest book Past Marriageable Age came from everyday issues and conversations around me. It’s 2019 but people still think there’s a certain age by which women should be married. Thankfully, there are some women who aren’t pressurised by their families and allowed to live the way they want to — whether they’re waiting for love and a husband or not.
4) Other books. Sometimes, another author’s story puts you into daydreaming mode. Maybe you want to try writing your next book in a completely different setting. Or maybe your fellow romance author has delivered a trope so well that you feel like attempting that trope too. That’s why I wrote The Perfect Fake Boyfriend after realising how fun the fake lovers to real lovers trope could turn out to be.
Of course there are other ways to get great ideas. Like the books you see that are based on true stories from the news. News from decades or history from hundreds of years ago can provide plenty of story ideas with unique protagonists. The trick is to take that chunk of information and make it into engaging, well paced scenes that keep readers hooked. Grabbing and making the best of everything happening around you is a big part of the writer’s life.