novel ideas

I googled "novel ideas" today and I found a good one:

Step #1. Get a bunch of plot summaries for existing stories.
You can find these on book jackets, TV listings, or movie guides. For example, the Internet Movie Database ( can be a great resource for generating writing ideas. It provides a brief plot summary for almost every movie ever made. The site has a list of the top 250 films (according to user votes), and the bottom 100, and also lets you browse alphabetically through all the films that have plot summaries.
Choose summaries that are brief, perhaps one or two sentences at most.
Step #2: Create original writing ideas by changing one thing at a time.
Choose one plot summary.
For the purpose of illustration, I’ll pick one plot summary from IMDb’s top 250 list. I choose The Third Man, because I have never seen the film, so I have no preconceived ideas about it. (This actually makes it easier.) There are several plot summaries for this film, written by different people. I want the shortest one for this exercise -- just the bare bones of the story idea. Here it is …
“An American pulp writer arrives in post-WWII Vienna only to find that the friend who waited for him is killed under mysterious circumstances. The ensuing mystery entangles him in his friend's involvement in the black market, with the multinational police, and with his Czech girlfriend.”
Now chose one thing to change about your chosen plot summary. It can be anything at all.
For instance, here are some possible changes I could make …

The steps carry on from there. It's not exactly coming up with an original idea, full of depth and self and all that jazz, but it's a fun way to come up with something when you want to just quickly fire off a novel in the next 30 days!


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