Unmatched Writing Ideas

If you come up with an idea for a book, I guarantee someone else in the world has come up with the same idea. If you come up with two ideas and combine those to write a story, that would be a little more distinctive.

But if you come up with five ideas and merge them into a story, you would have something unique.

Magazines have a great wealth of information. Not only can you find some wonderful ideas for your story, but also you can collect descriptions for characters and everything that your characters need to bring them to life.

Using Magazines for Story Ideas

Go to the store and purchase five random magazines. Make sure your magazines are completely different in genre. For example, buy Esquire, Legal Affairs, Conde Nast Traveler, Car & Driver, and Science News.

By purchasing those five magazines, you now have the following:

~ Snazzy and well-dressed characters, along with a debate of the finest things in life.

~ How legal matters seep into everyday life, influencing our culture, changing our psyche.

~ Well-heeled world travel guide where money is not an object.

~ Readable prose ranging from cranky to hilarious when comparing legendary vehicles.

~ First dibs on the newest science and nature research.

I’ll bet just reading over those five subjects your mind already began to wander into a story idea. Just imagine if you purchase five random magazines today, what you can come up with by tonight?

Using Magazines for your Character Ideas

~ Cut out every picture of a person in the magazine. It does not matter if the picture is for an article, or an advertisement.

~ Save those pictures in a file to use later when you need an idea for a character.

~ When choosing a picture for a character, write their name on the photo to bring even more life to your fiction world.

Using Magazines for Description Ideas

~ Cut out pictures of cars, rooms, food, houses, cleaning products, etc…Gut that magazine and store in labeled files.


The word reference should be a counterpart in your author career. Magazines have an enormous amount visual photos and articles that you can file and keep for that moment when your gift of writing comes together with brilliant ideas…

Ron Knight


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Untraditional Publishing Definition: “An author teaming up with a non-publishing company to publish books.”

Ron Knight

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  1. Oh, Ron, I have found so many great things in magazines. Sadly, many of them have fallen by the wayside in recent years. My favorites are an out-of-print magazine called Colonial Homes. I found so many Colonial American families (some of them even my own), pictures of the actual houses where people lived, how their gardens looked, etc. and I have used many of them in my books. Some of them are just stored away on my shelves and in my head. I lost some of them in the flood back in Grand Forks ND in 1997, so I was extremely excited when I found a website that had many of those and one by one I am replacing them.

    My other favorite is National Geographic. They have done several articles on Dunnottar Castle which I found very helpful when I was writing Dunnottar. They also did several articles on the ship, The Whydah, which figures in my House Call to the Past and Port Call to the Future. I even used it in the book, with the dr. who time traveled back to the early 1700s reading it so he knew the story of Maria Hallett and Black Sam Bellamy.
    Now that they have actually found the ship, National Geographic has taken part of the pirate’s “loot” on tour. They are in Milwaukee at the Public Museum until May 27, and a bus tour from Marinette has asked me to be their tour guide when they take a group of people there on May 18. I am so excited! To prepare for it, I just talked to a gal from a Bed & Breakfast in Marinette and we are going to do a joint “Pirate & Witch Adventure Night” at the B & B on March 16th!
    I have 3 issues of NG that have articles on Marco Polo. One day that’s in the works, but not today.

  2. erin o'quinn says:

    I am one of those nut cases who “see” people whole… warts and all, without ever having seen them–not in a magazine, not on the street, not even in dreams. They come to me like kids needing a mommy. The places? I make ’em up. The clothing? Ditto. Everything most people would find in a mag, I find in my brain. Does that make me special? No way! That makes me a nut case.
    It really is a good idea, Ron. But even the people in my dreams are ones I’ve never seen before. Everything is fresh and new. Sometimes wish I could do it a little differently. I will pass this on to others, though, because i see where it would really work.