The internet is an awesome place for writers — not only can we commiserate with each other and share our tales with readers, but the inspiration for our next great story is always just a few clicks away.
My article on Wikipedia, for instance, details how you can use the giant crowd-sourced information site to generate an almost endless supply of story ideas.
And, if you’re looking for inspiration that’s a little more in-your-face than what Wikipedia provides, the web has you covered, too.
Alltop is a comprehensive directory of blogs, spanning topics from sports to cooking to the paranormal to military history.
And, as you’ll see, Alltop lays out information from these blogs in a way that makes it dirt-simple to browse through and pick off story ideas like you’re plucking grapes from a vine.
And it all begins on the …
Unlike Wikipedia, Alltop hits you with a rush of ideas right up front.
When you navigate to the Alltop homepage, you’ll see something like this:
Those are the headlines from most recent five posts from each of the “featured” blogs in Alltop’s stable.
When I scan through this list of titles, the story ideas come rushing at me:
- A man quits his job for an unusual reason. What happens next?
- A strange bet causes one man to develop a photo-eating fetish.
- Business mogul’s odd quest to tunnel to the center of the earth.
- A successful woman who regrets her career choice takes on a new adventure — space exploration.
- Factories that operate under the surface of the earth are producing unfathomable new tech.
The headlines change all the time, too, so if you don’t see something that stirs inspiration on your first visit, come back later and try again.
Maybe you’re really not interested in Alltop’s recommendations. Maybe you have a shadow of an idea and just need some help fleshing it out.
In that case, Alltop’s search function can help you out.
In keeping with my penchant for horror stories, I typed “ghost” in the search box.
Here is how Alltop rewarded my curiosity:
Those are category listings, and some of them may seem a bit strange given my search term. For what I have in mind, though, Halloween, History, Literature, and Supernatural and Paranormal are the standouts. I clicked on Supernatural and Paranormal to reveal:
The “Most Popular Stories” are the ones from this category that have been accessed the most by other Alltop visitors. Below that are the most recent 5 stories for each of the blogs that Alltop has categorized as Supernatural and Paranormal. Scroll down, and you’ll see more:
Not all of these are directly related to ghosts, but they are all creepy in some way.
Based on this list, I could write for months about:
- A ghost city that appears each night and disappears in the morning.
- The ghost of a Civil War casualty who shows up onstage at a theater built near the battlefield where he died.
- The comet beyond our solar system where human souls go after we die.
- Snow-covered structures that appear in winter and seem to influence political events.
- A pop singer with the power of telekinesis.
And there are more blogs below what you see here.
And, the list of articles will change if you come back later.
And, you can click into any of the blogs to dig deeper into their archives.
Hundreds of story-worthy articles related to your keyword, all at your fingertips. Pretty nifty.
AND … if you need a bit more detail without clicking into a story, just hover over the link and Alltop will give you a nudge:
Each of these descriptions is liable to have multiple story ideas embedded in them, so don’t be afraid to “helicopter” to drum up some inspiration.
If you don’t have any idea for your story and nothing on the Alltop front page strikes your fancy, you can always browse through the categories of blogs indexed on the site.
When you click on the Topics menu heading, you’ll see this:
At the top are broad-based topics that will expand to more specific ideas the deeper you go. For instance, click on People, and you see:
If you’ve read this far, it probably won’t surprise you that Freemasonry jumped out at me. When I click that one, I once again see the glory of ready-made writing prompts:
Hints about secret societies, underground pacts, mysterious rituals, and general intrigue abound in these headlines. Easy pickings when it comes to generating a new story idea.
Of course, you can always drill into the categories by letter:
Choosing “A” gives us:
From here, you can just click into the individual topics as before until you strike story gold.
If you prefer to get your story stimulation through visual means, then you might like the Holy Kaw! feature of Alltop, which the site bills as “All the topics that interest us.” When you click the Holy Kaw! tab, you’ll see something like this:
Scroll down, and you’ll get even more in-your-face options:
From videos and pictures to headlines and blurbs, Holy Kaw! is full of ideas that span all sorts of subject matter. And inspiring? How does, “Baby chases tiger up Mount Everest but stops short when goblin springs out from behind signpost,” sound?
Well, yeah, it’s cheesy, but that’s more a function of my personality than the source material. The point is, Holy Kaw! is another font of story ideas that you shouldn’t ignore, especially if you’re stuck.
Finally, once you’ve spent some time on Alltop, you might want to customize your experience using the MyAlltop feature.
MyAlltop lets you collect the blogs you like — the ones that fire off your story-idea synapses on a regular basis — and present them all in one place.
To access MyAlltop, you first need to setup an account:
Once you do that and log in for the first time, you’ll see an empty MyAlltop canvas:
To start filling up your page, go back and find the blogs you want to keep track of. You can use any of the methods we talked about above — search, browse, Holy Kaw! — and then just click the “+” sign at the upper right of each blog listing:
I went back and grabbed some of those titillating blogs, and others, and this is what I have on my MyAlltop page:
Now, whenever I need fresh inspiration from a source I know will deliver, all I have to do is go to MyAlltop.
The Internet can be a noisy and confusing place sometimes, but it’s an absolute goldmine for writers — that’s especially true if you’re stuck for ideas.
And, when it comes to finding inspiration for your next story, there are few sites that offer a more diverse and accessible array of concepts than Alltop.
Spend a few minutes browsing through the titles on the giant blog directory, and you’ll have more story ideas than you can write in a year.
Happy treasure hunting!
Also published on Medium.