Since I’m “between books” at the moment, I’ve been thinking a little bit about writer’s block.
Cartoonist Scott McCloud has a number of anti-writer’s-block innovations on his website, including the “24-hour comic” and, especially, The Story Machine, a huge map of images and symbols that a stumped author can move through with dice, generating incidents and inspiration at every turn.
My own personal version of The Story Machine can be found in the standard dictionary sitting on every author’s shelf. Open to a random page, and look at the two “guide words” at the top. Taken as a pair, don’t they give you an idea for a scene, a chapter title, a telling little anecdote, or whatever? There you go; problem solved.
Here are some story or scene ideas in embryo, courtesy of Merriam-Webster’s 11th:
flexibly • flirt
opulently • orchestra
sea breeze • séance
headlong • hearse
simmer • Sinbad
earwax • eat
bargain • baronetage
and, my personal favorite:
uxorial • vaginismus
See how they practically write themselves?