I love it when it's time to think up a new idea. I know it can be challenging for some but I have a system I'd like to share with you. Some authors search for a new character or inciting incident first. That can be a fun way to come up with a story idea, but I go about it a little differently. I pick the SETTING first. Figuring out the WHERE can be a great jumping off place for several different reasons.
1. Characters are different based on where they live. A protagonist in California is different from one in Indiana. Michigan characters are different from those in Texas. The culture that goes into creating them are very diverse. So I start by picking an area. Then I read the history of that area.
2. Area newspapers and magazine articles can springboard the plot idea. Rosemary Cottage will ship in June. The idea came about after reading an article about a swimmer struck by a boat. I got to wondering what would happen if the death wasn't an accident. Lots of fertile ideas and themes sprang from that.
3. The setting has to set the atmosphere for me too. I tend to choose small town or remote areas where I can ramp up the suspense and sense of isolation. You may choose a city for a reason that suits your story.
So here's what I want you to do. Go read about Missoula on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missoula,_Montana Read the history, the current challenges facing the area, the entire thing. Jot down 3 possible ideas based on what you read there and let me know what you come up with.
What are some strategies you use to come up with a new story idea?