Writing an Original Novel: Ten Tips for Ideas by Michael M. Griffin

One simple idea may make you a success. One simple idea may spawn the next bestseller.

However, for new writers, it’s hard to develop an original trademark. Speaking as an upcoming writer myself, I have gathered a list of ten writing tips over the course of my journey. If you have trouble with developing ideas, please try a few of these surefire pointers to get you started!

Tip 1 – Watch Your Music

Your music is more than simple instruments. Regardless of what you are doing, listen to any song you want. Invent a random scene that you believe accompanies that song.

Imagine your own movie scene/trailer with that song as the soundtrack. In this visual representation of your music, the possibilities are endless; you are limited only by your imagination and your musical library.

Build from that sequence as it becomes clearer. Listen to other songs, create new scenes and string them all together. You may even want to write them down. Maybe you will notice something in your mental movie sequence that will spark an idea, then a character, and perhaps even a plot!

Personally, I favor classical music (soundtrack/neoclassical/trailer). It does not feature any lyrics, which allows your own imagination to dominate your scenes. Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Howard Shore, Epic Score, Two Steps From Hell and Nox Arcana are all great artists to start with!

Tip 2 – Brainstorm!

Write down anything and everything that comes into your head.

Allow multiple trains of thought, without having a care to what you are writing. Keep your thoughts as narrow or as wide as you wish, and interlink different thought-trains to form connections between them.

An idea for a story could possibly manifest from all the thoughts you write down. However, when you feel an idea forming, try to focus on what sparked it.

Tip 3 – The Single Word Technique

Think of a word … a single word, preferably an interesting one. Now write it down and capitalize it. This one word that you imagine is the title of the book.

Based on that one-word-title, imagine something that belongs with that title (i.e. – a character, place, conflict or event). If you can, imagine an entire storyline blossoming from this one word.

Tip 4 – Build on Past Creations

Draw from a storyline you already know – a favorite book or movie. Watch the movie or read the book. If you’re looking for an idea, something small could catch your eye and spark a story of your own.

However, DO NOT plagiarize! Personalize your idea and make it original!

Tip 5 – Create a Character

Imagine a character in your future book. Make a list of his/her characteristics, personality traits, objectives, problems and desires. Describe this character in as much detail as possible, and imagine what kind of adventures he/she would have.

Tip 6 – Travel

A journey could be the perfect remedy for a mental block. Get out of the house and have an adventure. Whether this adventure is to France, the Caribbean, the shore or your local movie theater, visiting new places can rouse ideas and inspire your work.

Tip 7 – Jobs, Hobbies and Interests

Consider one of your jobs or hobbies. Whether you are a lawyer or a guitarist, a mathematician or a painter, a congressman or a mechanical engineer, you have other areas of your life that can benefit your writing. Think about the nature of your job or hobby; what kind of fictional story could be written about it?

What do you find interesting? Cars? Attend a car show. War? Watch a war movie or visit a castle. History? Visit various museums. Science? Read technological magazines or science-fiction novels. Whatever inspires you, make sure you utilize it; think about how it could positively affect your writing.

In addition, read anything and everything that interests you, be it books, newspapers, articles, magazines or blogs. You never know what might come of some light reading.

Tip 8 – Reminisce

Reflect upon your own experiences. Perhaps there is a period in your life that was particularly joyous, grim, heartbreaking, fulfilling or life-altering.

If it isn’t upsetting to you, then weave a fictional tale around this era. People love a passionate story!

Tip 9 – Record Your Dreams

Countless novels, theories and inventions were originally born in dreams.

Keep a dream journal and record every dream you can remember. Document the date of the dream, the dream’s details and the dream’s emotions you experienced. Also note your level of consciousness within the dream (lucidity), as well as the amount of control you had over yourself and the dream’s environment.

You will be surprised with how many ideas you can extract from your dreams.

Tip 10 – Expect the Unexpected

Keep an open mind. Ideas can present themselves anytime, anywhere.

When they hit, always be ready; record them on a notepad app in your phone or iPod. Constantly be on the lookout for new ideas, as they can be quite spontaneous!



Michael M. Griffin is an aspiring writer who is planning to publish Mistress, a science-fiction novel of nanotechnology and religious tyranny, in 2013. It is not yet complete; however, you can support his work and find out more about Mistress by visiting his blog here.