Someone I know recently said she'd love to write a book but she couldn't come up with any original ideas. She'd think of a plot and then realize she'd read it a year ago. She sighed and said she wished she could just come up with really cool ideas so she could be a writer.
Well, so do I.
I don't wake up in the mornings and think, "Eureka! Another ten best-selling ideas!" I doubt anybody does.
It's all about asking "What if".
What if you could understand animals?
What if aliens exist?
What if Elvis is alive in some tiny little backwater town, happily munching on Krispy Kremes and admiring his blue suede shoes?
Yes, all these ideas have been done before. Honestly, at a basic, bare-bones level, there aren't any new ideas. There are, however, brilliant, funny, chilling, bizaare, poignant, clever twists on old ideas.
You take your "what if" and keep pushing. What if you can talk to animals and you realize you can use them to get what you want? What if you can marshall an army of spiders to target the homes of people who've done you wrong? What if you didn't realize this until you'd spoke your desire out loud and awakened the next morning to find it came true?
See? Take one "what if" and push. Flesh out your character. Don't be afraid to go in a new direction. Get halfway through the story, figure out what you really meant to say, and start over.
My friend could write a book if she wanted. She could come up with an original plot if she kept asking what if and didn't expect instant gratification.
It took me five months of asking "What if" to get Alexa's story. A great idea is worth the wait.