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Steve Alvest


Ways to use randomness to spice up your story

This list was adapted from an article on my blog and expanded upon.

Ways to use randomness to spice up your story

    1. Story prompts based on Wikipedia articles

    Whenever you need an idea for where to take a story, go to Wikipedia, select your language, and click “Random article” on the sidebar. You can also press ALT+SHIFT+X to load a random article. Keep clicking until an article sparks an idea. You can also decide if you need a person, place, or thing, and click “Random article” until you get the random person, place, or thing you need.

    2. Use tarot cards to decide what happens to your main character

    There are many websites with free online tarot decks you can use. Tarot cards are vague, but can nudge your imagination just enough so that you get fresh ideas for what to write.

    3. Generate a random plot twist to work into your story

    There are also many random plot twist generators out there. Generate a random plot twist and use it as a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter.

    4. Find a list of something and randomly choose one to add to your story

    This is the both the most powerful idea here, and also the hardest one to use. Find something that is numbered. Anything. It could be pages in The Bible, a numbered list of possible plot devices, or chapters from a book on writing. Use RANDOM.ORG to randomly choose a topic to inspire the next few paragraphs of your writing.

    5. Random objects

    Get a list of random objects. There are many random object generators online. Here's one. Here's another. Randomly pick three objects and write a story with all three objects.

    For example, a body washes ashore. In the person's pockets, police find a pocket watch, sunglasses, and a deck of playing cards. What happened?

    Another example: Your best friend has been missing for a month. Finally, you get access to their apartment and on the kitchen table are a jar of pickles, a bottle of oil, and a boom box. How do these clues lead you to find them?

    6. Random Gutenberg

    You can generate random books from Project Gutenberg. Find a random fiction book and loosely base your own story on the plot of the book. Or, you can use the setting and/or characters from the book and write a new story.

    7. This Person Does Not Exist

    Go to and generate each of your characters randomly. Generate a person and write a story about that person.

    8. Sudowrite

    Use powerful artificial intelligence tools to co-write with you. I'm an early customer of Sudowrite, and it makes writing fiction a lot of fun. Start writing a scenario, then have the AI take over. It's fun to see what directions the AI suggests for the story.

    9. Random character generators

    Generate a random character with one of the numerous random character generators online. Then write a story about the characters you generate.

    10. Writing prompts

    Get a writing prompt book or search for "writing prompts" online and find a good collection of writing prompts. Randomly pick a prompt or two and start writing!

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