By Britney Pieta
When you are looking for the next big idea that is going to your new story, novel, screenplay, etc, you need some kind of idea to get you going. That is where story triggers come into play. Story triggers—just like lighting a firework—will be what you need to spark your writing.
Some stories for me come through the question, “what if?” This is different than a prompt because it allows you to ask nearly an endless amount of questions. Being someone who worries a lot I do ask the question, “what if?” In that case, worrying does have a purpose for me. This requires great use of your imagination and asking questions about things you daily encounter. Inventors use this all the time to come up with new things people have never done before. This is the time to let your imagination run wild and not be kept in a cage. Just let it run loose. You can compare it to when you are walking a dog and it starts running and pulling you with it. Let your writing take you to great places. Angela Booth from http://www.copywriter.typepad.com said, “Your writing comes alive when you use your imagination, but you have to be willing to let go, to enter your imagination fully.”
My second idea for story triggers is to just to expand or view in a different perspective something that has already been published in the creative fields of books, music, and art. Your idea is like a branch on a tree. The trunk is already there and the branches (your idea) are what grow from it. For me, I add my own spin and twist to my story that has never been done before.
Story Triggers taken from: (Professor Tammie Bob, Fiction Class, COD Spring semester of 2010)
1. Anything you see that makes you ask, “What was that?” (ex. A biology professor shoplifting grapefruits, a dog that is friends with a cat, some kind of saucer or space like object in the sky)
2. “True Life” (ex. Is there a story you inevitably tell everyone you meet? A story you tell again and again? What’s its importance to you? What’s the “real” story?)
3. News stories and photographs. (ex. You see a front page piece about a 12-year-old arrested in Cleveland, you read a story about a ghost haunting, you see a Jesus like figure in shape in a cloud in the background)
4. Things You Connect. (ex. Miracles that defy doctor’s explanations, what someone said in your past is coming true now, you share the same birthday as your best friend.)
5. Idiosyncratic details. (ex. Things that make you angry, scared, laugh out loud, annoying or habitual gestures or tics. )
6. “Global” Issues Made Intimate. (ex. hunger, homelessness, racism, as they show up in the lives of relatives, neighbors, friends)
For each trigger you come up with, do some brainstorming about what interests you about the idea.