The Elements of Effective Fiction Story Ideas

Fiction story ideas are everywhere, but how do you identify one that has the chance to succeed? Some writers suggest testing your ideas to see if they have merit before you start writing, but that takes a lot of time that you could spend writing a short story or generating other creative story ideas. Sometimes what seems like a boring idea in summary will turn into an amazing story, and you only release that magic by giving the idea a chance.

Rather than testing your ideas on others, I suggest judging them based on the following idea elements. When you identify a fiction story idea that scores high with each of these points, you have an idea that is worth exploring further.


A Place for Character


characters for fiction story ideas


One mistake that many writers make is to get too stuck on plot. They look for short fiction story ideas with many surprises, twists and turns in the storyline, but they don’t connect those plot points back to the characters. Since an emotional connection with a well-developed character is the best way to keep a reader turning pages, neglecting character for plot is dangerous regardless of your genre.

If you naturally come up with lively plots or want to write in a plot-focused genre, make sure that your plot points can connect naturally to your lead character’s personality and motivations. If the character is an afterthought, you will end up forcing the character to fit the plot and your story idea will fall flat.


Natural Surprise


surprise in fiction story ideas


Great fiction plot ideas will include twists and turns designed to keep the reader guessing, so don’t assume that plotting isn’t important. The goal is to incorporate characterization in the plot and make sure that the surprises don’t feel forced or predictable.

Many fiction story ideas are far too simplistic or predictable at first. You can recognize that and do some creative thinking to elevate it to the next level. You do this by changing some elements of the idea so that it’s fresh and more natural for your character.

For instance, you may start with the idea of a young girl moving away from her family due to unexpected family drama. Perhaps your mind quickly jumps to teenage pregnancy because that gives her a realistic reason to get married or otherwise leave home with perhaps an older boyfriend. This story has been told a million times, so you have no surprise. There is nothing unique to this story idea.

You can take it to the next level by coming up with more creative reasons for her to leave home. Maybe she kills her parents and gets away with it, or perhaps her home burns down and her mother allows her to go live with a friend.

Keep twisting that idea until you come up with something that is naturally surprising. You don’t want your readers to guess your entire storyline in the first chapter.


Believable and Consistent


build trust with your fiction story ideas


You want to generate realistic fiction story ideas even if you’re writing in a fantasy or future world that is created entirely in your head. If you give your readers any chance to second guess the details of your story, you will lose their trust instantly. While you want to think creatively, you don’t want to bend reality to the point that your readers think you’re forcing story elements to fit your plot.

Consistency goes along with believable details because you will leave readers confused and snap them right out of your story if the details change. As you go through every element of your creative story ideas, make sure that one element doesn’t clash or conflict with another. All elements must fit together naturally, and they must feel authentic to your characters and overall plot.


Room for Growth


room for growth in fiction story ideas


The best short fiction and flash fiction story ideas leave room for change and growth, so they aren’t too formulaic. If you notice that your characters are the same at the end as they were in the beginning, you probably have some work to do on that fiction story idea. Come up with creative ways to open the idea so that your characters are forced to step beyond their comfort zones and your plot naturally curves when your readers expect a straight line.


Immediate Energy


fiction story ideas energy


Finally, the best fiction story ideas will bring some automatic energy to the page. This has a lot to do with writing style and voice, but you can often pick up on the energy of an idea before you start writing. Are you writing a poetic story that focuses on detailed descriptions of a fantasy world that should relax and intrigue your readers? Or are you writing a thriller that will make your readers want to leap from their couches and do something exciting?

If you feel like yawning and can’t identify an emotion or energy that is provoked from your story idea, then you may want to rework it some or move on to other interesting story ideas.


Analyzing Fiction Story Ideas


analyzing fiction story ideas


Don’t throw away story ideas that don’t have all of these elements. Work with them to create more unique and intriguing ideas. Developing ideas is just as important as coming up with the initial seed of an idea.

4 thoughts on “The Elements of Effective Fiction Story Ideas

  1. Josephine says:

    I used to write fiction stories all the time in high school, and then I just stopped. For some reason, I always would get writer’s block because all the surprise elements seemed always to be taken in major movies or daytime soap operas. Writing gave me such a great outlet back then, so I want to start exploring ideas again.

    Without being too cliche, do you have any suggestions on how I can come up with fresh new plot ideas?

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      I’m going to put up some reviews for prompt books that can help you do that, but I recommend The A.M. Epiphany. It’s loaded with exercises that designed to help you create fresh ideas.

  2. Lawrence says:

    Hi Theresa.
    I am pretty sure everyone wants to write a book at some point in their life and I am no different. And like most I have never achieved the goal – I have written a few golf instruction Kindle books but never a work of fiction.
    I love these key points you mention here and as you suggest my hang up has always been based around the plot and no consideration to the main character.
    I think this post may have helped rekindle my desire to write fiction.
    Have bookmarked your fabulous site.

    • Theresa Hammond says:

      If you’re struggling to come up with a plot, just focus on fleshing out your characters! You will come up with all kinds of plot ideas based on who they are, what they want, and what’s standing in their way. Thanks for reading, Lawrence!

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