Writers are fond of exclaiming “Everything’s been done!” They’re wrong, of course. With every new day, new stories appear across the globe. And while writers may be limited to following a certain type of plot, the details of the plot can be new and exciting if writers simply learn how to rely on nontraditional sources.

Listen to the Rumor Mill

Most writers have day jobs. Unlike Stephen King and Dan Brown, writing doesn’t pay the bills. But writers can use this to their advantage by actively seeking out the latest gossip and rumors. Have a co-worker who shoots his mouth off? Write down what he says. Is there a rumor going around that sounds too unbelievable to be true? Then it probably is. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work well in a story.

Visit Conspiracy Sites

Going to places like True Conspiracies can provide writers with a plethora of information that can be used not just in thrillers, but in comedies and literary novels as well. All it takes is a little creativity. Is NASA a conspiracy? Some people think so. Just take a look at the Dark Mission site. Oftentimes, even more interesting conspiracy sites can be found by navigating the links on more famous sites. Writers can research these sites not just for ideas for overall plot but for characters who might drive the plot in certain directions.

Read the New York Times

Some of the best articles in the New York Times are not found on the front page. Despite all of the recent budget cuts over the years, the journalists at the New York Times still pursue stories around the globe. In a recent issue of the Sunday magazine, there were articles on a best-selling author’s personal life, teachers’ unions, and the effects of California’s three strikes law.

Get a Part-Time Job

It doesn’t matter how much you’re getting paid or what you’re doing. You’re looking for experience. You’re taking the pulse of a piece of society you don’t normally interact with. You don’t have to keep the job forever, just long enough to get an understanding of the people who work with you and the stories they may tell.

Read at Least One Book Per Month

Reading stimulates the creative part of your brain. Unlike watching television, readers must use their brains to create the world in a book, and once the creative lights turn on, it’s hard to turn them off. Try to diversify you library and pick a few thrillers, a few comedies, a few science fiction books, and a few literary novels from small publishers like Red Hen Press in order to see just how diverse the plots can be. Each writer approaches plot differently, and reading their works not only supports them, it provides you with valuable insight into how you can best approach your next story. I got the idea for my last book by reading old fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm.

Each writer approaches plot differently, and reading their works not only supports them, it provides you with valuable insight into how you can best approach your next story.