The obvious answer would be passion. The stories one is passionate about may be easier to write (or harder), and they have an amazing way of grabbing readers and pulling them deep into your story world.
The funny thing is, stories that tap into our passions don't tend to just fall in our laps. At least, not very often. Passion-based stories sometimes require hunting and soul-work.
There are some great places to begin the search for your passions.
|church window, Stow-on-the-Wold|
1. Gather twenty of your favorite books or films. Seek commonalities among them. What made these stories resonate for you? Did they have a similar subject matter? Kind of protagonist? Emotional range? Plot set-up? Theme?
2. Write out some of you deepest beliefs. Imagine scenarios in which those values would be challenged or questioned.
My novel Never Gone, for example, explores with how a teen attempts to reconcile her Christian beliefs about the immortality of the soul with her own very raw emotions while grieving.
3. Remember some of the most intense experiences of your life--times when you learned amazing things, faced a great challenge, overcame an obstacle, shifted your entire outlook.
4. Consider your own personal struggles. What problems do you wish could be resolved yesterday? What hardships in the past have shaped you most? What kind of topics in a bookstore's self-help section grab your attention?
5. Visit news sites. Note which stories you have a visceral reaction to, be it anger, sadness, disgust, excitement, or an itch to learn more.
If you are able to combine two or more of these areas, chances are you'll tap more deeply into subjects and themes that will grab your imagination hard and not let it go. Stories with that kind of passionate drive at their center are what readers want most.
How do you typically generate story ideas? Which ways might you try to identify subjects and themes you're passionate about?