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Creative Writing: Story Ideas

A guide to research by Pratima Ghale at Mt. Holyoke College. Used with permission for students at Hollins University, using Wyndham Robertson Library.



Image credit: Eureka!

Sources for generating story ideas

The News

The news in all formats is a great source of story ideas.  A sampling of news resources:

  • WRL's Newspaper Databases - includes databases containing US, International, and historic newspapers.
  • This American Life Radio Archives - Online archive of a radio show featuring real life narratives based on a different theme each episode.
  • wwiTV - Directory of television news channels web sites (many offer video content live or recorded online).  Use the Countries menu to target channels in a specific geographic area.

Diaries and Memoirs

Life stories are another potential source of story ideas.  Some collections available at MHC:


Pictures can evoke stories. Plenty of images are freely available on the Internet, but a few of our library image databases also provide background information about the pictures they contain:


Songs often tell stories and music can evoke mood (plus sometimes it's just fun to have some background music when you're writing!).  Some music sources:

  • Naxos Music Library - Collection of online streaming music (all genres)
  • YouTube - Search by artist, song name, or genre (e.g., Irish Music)