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Bewildering Stories

A contributor asks about...


A contributor asks an honest — and practical — question. The answer is also practical, although it does address other needful considerations, as well.

I’m gonna be honest here, I’m kinda running out of ideas for stories. Do you have any suggestions? I want to do something totally original.

There’s no such thing as “totally original.” Stories are like sentences, which have a verb, a subject, and maybe an object or predicate. Within that framework any number of sentences can be made. Likewise, within the framework of a story, any number of stories can be written.

Ideas aren’t hard, writing is. Here’s what I recommend you concentrate on:

  1. First, read the articles linked in our Submissions guidelines. They’ll give you a lot of valuable tips.

  2. Then explore the website. We’re coming up on a total of 500 authors. Find one you like and whose style seems congenial to your own. Then read everything the author has published in Bewildering Stories.

  3. Take one of those stories and make an outline of the plot: what happens, when, and why. Ask yourself what might be done differently and how any changes might affect the story.

  4. Then take a look at the style: can it be made more concise? Livelier or more colorful, somehow? Practice by changing the tone of the story from serious to funny or vice-versa.

Ideas are the least of your worries. How can anyone not have ideas? Bewildering Stories is a treasure trove, especially in the official Challenges. Of course you can use them; everybody is free to do so. As for your own ideas, all you have to do is first figure out how you want a story to end. Once you’ve done that, you’re halfway home.

Best of luck,


Copyright © 2006 by Don Webb

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