How to get and develop killer story ideas – recording

The recording of the session with Larry Correia at LTUE is up on YouTube. I really enjoyed this session, and it’s always fun to work with Larry. A few additonal points.

First, you might think, well, heck, they didn’t finish a story idea. No, we didn’t. The purpose wasn’t to wow the audience. It was to show them the process of generating ideas. But . . . that doesn’t mean we weren’t close.

The big thing we’re missing from the story at the end is the situation, the problem. So if you want to extend this, ask yourself a question to help you identify that story core. For example, you might say, let’s narrow this down by genre. What genres could we use? Romance, political thriller, crime, horror, humor, scifi, western, paranormal, etc. If we select paranormal thriller, we limit our options (a good thing), and can start to generate ideas around a question like, what’s going on, what’s the problem? Potential answers:

  • There’s some gateway to the spirit world in Wyoming
  • Maybe there’s an oilrigger roughneck involved
  • Maybe something with the drilling disturbed something
  • Maybe a crime has been committed (I know, I know, but what did I say in the video about crap, cliche?)
  • Maybe that Japanese tourist has a way to capture the spirits and use them in some magic. Is he a wizard? Is he there to trap the spirits of the dead to fuel his magic? Did he get a nagging ghost that drives him nuts?
  • Did someone call him in?
  • Or is he possessed? An innocent bystander?
  • Is there some ghost there that knows something about a political figure, some information?  
  • Maybe someone who can project her spirit, has some power, has been kidnapped and is being held in Wyoming. Or tries to make her escape when her kidnappers stop in Rock Springs. And the guy to help her is the Japanese Tourist.
  • Maybe these aren’t ghosts, but some kind of alien symbiote? There was a crash somewhere and the locals were infected?
  • Or should I ask: what could go wrong with ghosts? Or what is the nature of ghost magic?  

Do you see? If we had more time, we’d have delved more into the situation with creative Q&A. Sooner or later as we generated ideas around character, setting, and problem a story idea would have come to life.

And (thank you, Mike Barker) here’s a transcript.

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13 Responses to How to get and develop killer story ideas – recording

  1. Nathan Major says:

    Awesome! Thanks! I had to miss this one due to prior commitments (believe me, I was pretty mad when I finally realized it. I had even put a smiley face next to it on my planner), but this is fantastic.
    Thanks again! Time to get some ideas. 😀

  2. Kate says:

    THANKS! THANKS! THANKS! I’m so excited to watch this.

  3. Dannyboy says:

    Thanks for getting this on tape, John. My sister couldn’t attend this year, and she was a little depressed when I told her how awesome LTUE was, and how much I enjoyed this lecture. Getting the video of it that she can watch whenever she want to will really brighten her day.

  4. Matt Wolfe says:

    This was great. Thanks for posting it. You didn’t happen to record your other appearances did you?

  5. Dixon says:

    Great video John! You give some great tools to get me going.Thank you so much for recording and posting this video.

  6. Mike Barker says:

    In case anyone wants the text — there’s a transcript at

    and summary at

  7. Mike Barker says:

    You’re quite welcome. Hope it helps!