Writers create an authentic manuscript when they’re able to write about what they know. These ideas can come from your personal experiences, however, can and often should, also come from research, interviews, and, in the best cases, from your imagination.
Knowing how to get ideas for your book might have a foundation in experience, but there are other influences you should also consider such as knowing what the market is currently searching for in a book. This consider is key to creating a saleable book. Readers and publishers, if you are traditionally publishing, will have evolving needs based o the current things they are experiencing in their lives and what is going on, in general, in the world.
So you have your internal experiences and the external experiences of the market that you must consider and address. Here is how you can make sure you achieve this goal.
#1. Look at current books in your genre.
Books that are just coming to the market have already found the balance between experience and marketing potential. Take a look at the content in these books and you’ll be able to see what your own book may need. For example, recently Dr. Oz had a segment on adult loneliness and shared how it was growing into a severe social epidemic. I googled the term, adult loneliness, at the time and found there wasn’t nearly as much written about it as I would think there would be. But this realization now creates a significant opportunity to anyone who wants to write about the subject.
#2. Talk to other authors who have been published.
Every author faces some unique challenges during the publication process. Take some time to speak with published authors to see what their publishers or agents asked of them. Then you can take their experience, apply it to your own, and be able to craft a narrative that is potentially attractive to the market.
#3. It must be about the reader.
First-time authors tend to write something that they’d want to read. If their target audience agrees with them, then this can be a powerful book. Often the target reader wants something other than what the author wants, so the finished manuscript feels self-serving and egotistical. Try to avoid this by talking with readers who might be interested in the genre of book that you are writing.
#4. Sometimes all you need to do is sit and watch.
Research can take on many different forms. You might be able to ride along with a police officer to research a mystery novel. You can dig into historical records when writing a biography or historical drama. Yet sometimes all you need to do is sit on a park bench and watch people walk by. Their mannerisms can become something that your characters can have within your book.
#5. Spin tales from your life for extra authenticity.
Authenticity is the biggest challenge for writers today.
If a story seems unrealistic, then there’s a good chance that the reader is going to stop reading the book. An easy way to avoid this is to take events from your life, spin them into something that works with the current narrative, and create scenes that feel real because they are based in realism.
#6. Put out social networking requests for ideas.
Your family and friends might have a great idea for a book. Use them as a resource. Just post a status update which requests ideas that they might like to see for a book. If you get some great ideas, then remember to give credit where credit is due when it comes time to publish the book. If not, try a different approach. Ask targeted questions so you can get some answers that can be turned into interesting book ideas.
#7. Take an old idea and turn it into something new.
There are plenty of stories out there today that are either in the Public Domain or could be spun into a new narrative with the right permissions. Look at these options as a way to either add depth to your current story or create a new book outright.
#8. Read your newspaper.
Current events can also provide a lot of inspiration for a new book. Maybe there is an election going on that could add interesting details to your narrative. Someone might have won an award for their work and this could be an inspiration for one of your characters. Look at any quotes that have been printed for a way to enhance your dialogue as well. You can’t directly copy what you read, but you can be inspired by these stories and comments and that provides needed experience.
Knowing how to get ideas for a book means putting yourself out there as a writer. Use your own life experiences to add authenticity. Research various resources at your library to gain a historical perspective. Watch people to see their mannerisms so you can include realistic character details. This will help you to create an incredible book that feels real to the reader.
Want more writing insights? Check out this post on how to write for beginners.