on Fiction University:
Your favorite story, movie, or TV show can be the key to your next great novel idea.
I think for most of us, ideas are pretty easy. They pop into our heads all the time, either as a general concept, a fun character, or an interesting situation. What’s hard, is turning that idea into a workable conflict with a plot that will become a strong novel. That’s where the real skill comes in.
Next time you’re stuck on what to do with your idea, or just need a way to generate an idea, turn to your favorite movies and books and “steal” what you love about them (and no, I’m not advocating plagiarism here, bear with me).
One of my favorite movies is Mama, a creepy, horror/psychological suspense that turns the whole idea of conflict and what it means it be an antagonist on its head.
While I enjoyed the details of this story, what really blew me away was how the writers built a multi-layered conflict with no actual “bad guy,” even though one of the main characters is a homicidal, yet maternal ghost.
After seeing it, I wanted to write a story like it. Not the ghost part, but the “problem where there is no clear-cut right or wrong” part. A story with no true bad guy.
That’s what I mean by “steal.”