10 Best Book Ideas

Are you struggling to brainstorm a new book idea?

If you’re a writer, at some point you’ve probably thought about writing a book.

Let’s be real: even if you’re not a writer, you’ve probably come up with ideas for stories to write.

If you’re in the writing industry, you’ll notice – at some point, most of the people you know will come to you with an idea for a book (or a screenplay or a short story).

So how do you generate an idea for a book?

If you’re struggling, you might have a couple of issues:

lightbulb on chalkboard with lines leading to 6 empty circles

1. Maybe you have too many ideas, and need to focus on one.

This is a common problem when you’re trying to find a good idea for a book.

I have this happen to me a lot, whether it’s a book or a blog or a script. I’ll have 20 great thoughts, and not know which one to write!

There are a couple ways to overcome this. One is to just flip a coin or choose at random.

Another good way is to look at the top-selling books in your genre, and see if you have something similar to those, and go with that.

2. You’ve got writer’s block.

This happens to everyone. All writers at some point struggle to write. Maybe they even have a great idea for a book, but they just aren’t sure how to approach it.

Don’t stress. 

Because these two issues are so common, a lot of people hit a wall before they’ve even written their first word.

So, here’s one way we get past that wall and on to the other side: brainstorming jump-starts to inspire you with the 10 best book ideas ever.

These ideas for stories can be used not only for books, but also novellas, games, TV shows, films – any type of creative writing.

All types of stories you might want to write are in here, so don’t feel landlocked if you’re writing a TV show or a play. These ideas can help you there, too!

Here are the 10 Best Book Ideas:

1. How the Other Half Lives

Put someone who would never have experienced a wealthy life into a wealthy life. This is the basis of familiar stories like The Princess Diaries – where we see a young girl thrust into royalty.

How does this character deal with their new situation? What kinds of people might they meet, what conflicts might they encounter?

When I was in college, I met some people from very wealthy backgrounds who had never done their own laundry. They didn’t know how to do it – so they had to learn. Think about big and small conflicts a character in a setting totally different from how they were raised might run into.

2. Body Swap

This can be literal (as in Freaky Friday-style storytelling), or it can be an identical twin situation, like The Prince & the Pauper.

Someone who looks just like you ends up in your life, and you end up in theirs.

This can be similar to How the Other Half Lives, but it also can be its own totally unique storyline – you might not have an opposite life (in Freaky Friday, their lives aren’t opposite – one is older and one is younger, so their responsibilities and expectations are just, well, different).

3. Stuck Somewhere and Have to Get Home

This is a pretty classic storyline. Your lead character is trapped and has to get home. The entire TV series of Star Trek Voyager followed this premise, and there’s a lot that can be built into the idea.

It can be set in space, but it could also be set in the real world. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey also tracks a story like this.

This can also be inverted into a Runaway from Home journey.

4. Suddenly, I’m Super!

Someone totally unexpected gets superpowers (or gets their superpowers taken away).

How do they react? What are they now able to do that they couldn’t do before? Explore these questions, and see what you run into.

5. In Love with the Enemy

This is a classic romance setup; someone you hate becomes someone you fall in love with.

Did you know romance novels are 50% of mass market paperback sales in the US every year?

How does this translate to the page? What kinds of settings could this take place against?

This is also similar to the Romeo & Juliet set-up of “I’m in love with someone I shouldn’t love.”

6. Investigate a Mystery

Something bad has happened, and it’s up to you to find out whodunnit! This, of course, is a classic detective setup, but it also works in the context of other types of stories.

Everyone loves a mystery.

One of my favorite mystery characters is Nick Velvet, a thief created by Edward Hoch. Nick is interesting because he only steals things that are of negligible monetary value. For instance – a Christmas stocking, or the water from a swimming pool.

This is also a fun inversion of a trope, because you’re following the criminal’s storyline, rather than focusing on the detective investigating the criminal.

There are a lot of ways to play with mysteries, so don’t hesitate to get creative!

7. Going Back in Time

Or into the future. Find a setting in a different world, and put your favorite type of hero in that world.

For instance, are you a fan of westerns? What does a western-style hero look like in ancient Rome? Or on a spaceship? How is investigating a serial killer different in the 1690s vs. the 1990s? Play around with time. This is a great way to worldbuild.

8. A Creature from Beyond

This is another great supernatural classic. What kind of strange creature might attack a city/town/country/the world?

Get in touch with your inner Lovecraft and write some creepy stuff.

9. Multiple Journeys to the Same Destination

This is the interconnected story, where either thematically or physically all the characters are connected.

One we see a lot is the organ donor storyline, where someone survives by receiving an organ and then becomes personally connected to the life of the organ donor (the films 21 Grams and Seven Pounds explored this idea in interesting ways).

10. (Un)Natural Disaster

Either an intense natural disaster or an intense supernatural disaster hits. A comet is on its way to Earth and your protagonist has to stop it.

Or it can be something closer to home, like an earthquake or tornado disaster.

How do your characters cope with the aftermath?

This can also be a “stranded in the wilderness” journey, like Gary Paulson’s Hatchet.

Bonus Ideas:

11. We All Have the Same Dream

Each character is experiencing the same dream, but why? What does the dream tell us about them? How does it connect them? And what does it tell them about the future?

12. Someone I Love Is Missing

Someone the main character is close to goes missing or dies. How do they react? How does their life change?

13. Me Against the World

Someone who is different or special or a “chosen one” must fight against the world. The world is often an oppressive government, but can be as simple as the local high school administration.

There are so many still untapped story ideas that would make a great idea for a book – witches and dragons, telepathy, gambling, biographies, exploration, heists, addiction, your personal journey – and any one of those can be turned into something amazing.

Does one of these ideas really jump out as the perfect idea for your next book?

In the comments, write an idea you would love to turn into a book, or an idea that inspires you!