{Discover.Play.Build.} Generating Story Ideas

This week I talked with some third grade writers about the way writers generate story ideas. The point of a writer’s notebook is to use it as a tool to produce writing that goes out into the world. So writers must generate writing ideas. I shared with them three ways I generate story ideas.

  1. I think about places and the stories that have happened there (or could happen there if I’m writing fiction).
  2. I think about people. My brother Jeff is a goldmine of story possibilities. What people in your life give you an unlimited number of stories?
  3. I think about special days or holidays. I have a ton of Halloween stories and Christmas stories and Talk Like a Pirate day stories. How about you? What special days generate a slew of story ideas?
Make a list in your writer’s notebook about possible story ideas. Below are some of the lists from my notebook.
Are you up for even more of a challenge? Then try writing a list of at least 25 story ideas. I do this each time I start a new writer’s notebook for my fiction work.

A Peek Inside My Notebook…

Generating stories based on a person (my brother Jeff) and
a holiday (Halloween).


  1. This is a great activity for writer's of all ages. With my high school students we keep a list of people, places and things we can write about it. Whenever I add to my list, I encourage them to take a minute and add to theirs.

  2. Great to see the samples of your notebook. I love to share the real things with students, to show that I do it, too. As for the previous post and talk. It's so crucial to teach how writers do it, but really how learners in all ways benefit from discussing their process, bouncing ideas back & forth, and so on. Talking like a writer also just sounds good!