Everyone needs fresh creative writing ideas, new ways of looking at their writing. By going back to the basic elements of fiction, or by exploring them for the first time, you can see your writing in a new light and polish or expand in directions you never even knew existed!
One of the most obvious and important elements of fiction is character (click for specific creative writing ideas related to character). Often what makes us love or hate a story is how well we can believe in its characters. Do you make a grocery list of all their traits? No, you notice a few striking details (too much eye makeup! or she walks gracefully) and then the rest develops.
Other good ideas for your creative writing can come from examining the element of setting. This was a hard one for me to learn. I used to have all my stories floating in a kind of Neverland. It was only after I read some great books which featured the landscape almost as a character itself (Les Miserable comes immediately to mind) that I realized the importance of place. Consider taking a story of yours and changing its setting dramatically. What else would you have to change? Have you clearly developed your setting or is it all too easy to have the same story take place in Paris as in Kansas? Granted, there are some minimalist stories which work this way, but they do so consciously, not out of neglect.
What about tone? Often we set our tone unconsciously, relying on old, ingrained patterns. But new ideas can come if you consciously consider the tone you set with your writing. Is it serious, dark, blithe, friendly, morbid, etc? Why does that tone work for the piece you’re writing? Why doesn’t it? Try writing something just around a tone. Write something intentionally jovial if you tend to write dark pieces. Stretch yourself.
Another major one of the elements of fiction which can be mined for fresh creative writing ideas is plot. Many beginning writers tend to be either too plot heavy (influenced by the plot focus of most thrillers, TV shows and movies) or try to ignore plot, hoping it will go away, thinking it beneath the writing of “great literature.” The fact is that when you write a story something has to happen, preferably something interesting, thought-provoking and tension-building. It doesn’t have to be huge and dramatic and involve explosions to be a good plot. In fact, the best plots are subtle, intricate, surprising. As a good exercise, I suggest reading a number of brief plot summaries (often on the backs of books or online descriptions) and then try to summarize a story you’ve written or a longer piece you’re working on. Does the summary sound like a story you’d like to read?
Next you’ll want to examine your story’s point of view for inspiration. When I was young I had the stupid idea that point of view didn’t matter, that a story was just a story no matter who told it. But consider if Huckleberry Finn had been told from Jim’s point of view. Wouldn’t that have made a difference? Take a look at your writing and question the narrator. Would the story be better told by a character you now consider a minor character? Consider Sherlock Holmes. Isn’t it so much nicer to hear Watson’s point of view? How could your story change if we were allowed to hear someone else’s voice?
You’ll also want to consider your story’s theme (or themes) for creative writing ideas. What is the story saying about life or “the human condition”? Do all the elements of the writing add up to make this theme present and believable without beating your readers over the head with it?
Finally, remember that good creative writing ideas can come from anywhere. Keep your eyes & ears open and make sure to form a creative habit so that you’ll be open to these ideas when they strike.