It isn’t always about finding ideas for stories. Sometimes it’s about adding depth to a story you are working on. Looking for the layers that will make it breathe.
Here’s Nicole Murphy:
“I love the weird little things that I spot out on my walks from time to time. Like today on the path was a half-foot length of thick rope, tied with knots at both ends. I’m guessing it’s a dog toy but… why is it lying on the path? Did the owner throw and the dog not fetch? Why? Or maybe it was tossed over the fence nearby, a distraught person getting rid of the last reminder of a beloved pet lost…
When you look, and allow yourself to think, there’s inspiration everywhere.”
That dog rope may mean your main character is a dog lover. Or hater. Did they have dogs as a child? Are they living somewhere they can’t have a dog now? This stuff doesn’t have to be plot-changing, and maybe won’t end up in the final draft, but it can give you a better understanding of the character and of the direction your story might take.
Place is the same. Finding small details to bring a setting alive. Today I refreshed the wells by going to a bunch of fetes. To be honest, I’ll go to a fete even when the well is full and I’ve got 400 litres stored in the shed. But still: Gillian Polack and I went to four fetes, each one with a different mood, a different sense. Peopled by different volunteers. Each fete smelled different, sold different items. One was an established church. One was a school for vulnerable and disadvantaged children. One was a long-established primary school. And one was a retirement villages. Noting the differences was interesting, and may help inform a future story.