Every story starts as an idea. It might start off as a big fully formed idea, most times though, it starts as a small unclear idea. It can be from something you observe about yourself or someone else, it can be from an incident that happens, it can be from an object, it could come from a trending news item or a small news item at the corner of the newspaper that no one is talking about.

In short, story ideas come from anywhere and whether they end up seeing the light of day by moving from just an idea to a script and eventually to visuals on a screen is dependent on several factors e.g how persistent and aggressive you are, luck, networks, great idea.

Let us focus on a great idea because if you have great networks and luck is on your side but the idea is weak then chances are it won’t see the light of day.

So how exactly then do we turn our simple idea into a big idea? There are a couple of techniques you can use to achieve this.

  1. Change your story’s location: Is your story about domestic abuse set in a rural setting, how about setting it in an upwardly mobile location, with the character being battered a big shot lawyer or vocal human rights defender. This in itself brings to your story a great contradiction that immediately makes the idea fresh and intriguing and we want to find out more.
  2. Change The Genre: Have you considered changing the genre of your story and how it could switch things up for your story idea? Think about how the genre you have chosen impacts your main character’s behaviour and the kind of choices they are going to be forced to make.
  3. Character Swap: From male to female or female to male. Try that and see if that helps with moving your idea from just okay, to a bigger idea.
  4. Start with the Theme: Taking a closer look at the theme of your story can open up your story from a small idea to something really big. Theme in this case can be defined as writing from the writers POV, what are those moral issues you want to address through your story?

Theme will come from moral issues that interest you or affect you as a writer. What are some of the things you feel passionate about? What things are you curious about? What theme is coming out of your story? Is it Injustice, Is it coming of age? Sometimes writers don’t think much about themes unless it’s really coming out strongly, but the thing is every story has a theme coming out, it might be very subtle, but if you as the writer don’t pick up on the theme coming out of your story then you will write on and miss out on crucial elements that would have propelled your story to the next level. Think of theme as the foundation of your house. You need a very strong foundation to support your building. Without a strong foundation, a building will collapse, this applies to your story as well. 

  • 5. Your character’s profession: I watched an entire film where characters woke up and just talked and went about their day, there was nowhere we knew what the characters did professionally etc. A character’s profession reveals something deeper and meaningful about them. A miserable banker who is a closeted artist gives us something to work with, a struggling writer who went against her parents and took the arts instead of the sciences at school gives us something to play with and opens up your world and story idea. Carefully consider this as you go along.
  • 6. What If: I love going into dream world with this question. I ask myself ‘What If’ and I get many ideas, some good, some bad and some really worth paying attention to. I think asking yourself ‘What if’ helps the mind relax and trick it into thinking it’s not working, this in turn helps the mind not to feel limited and goes into imagination mode, which is something we all need badly as creatives.  Hope you’ve found those tips useful. If you’d like more tips on writing. Head over to my website You can also subscribe to my email list for your free guide on writing plus a weekly newsletter that inspires, informs and educates, on the business and craft of writing. You can also buy my book on writing. Get writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea to First draft on Amazon. Or if in Kenya, order a hardcopy by whatsapp text only to 0707 651546 for your hard copy at Kshs 850. Happy Creating!

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