One of the most interesting ways to come up with story ideas is to start with an image or picture. It can be anything, but visual prompts help our brains to see ideas.
After you find something, like this wonderful GIF of some panda jiggling and giggling, I like to think of a few objects/ideas that come into my mind to use in the story. 1. Talent contest. 2. Bored pandas. 3. A shocked world.
Then, plan your story in stages -
introduce: the characters and a problem to solve rising action: things start to happen
climax: the most exciting part of the story
resolution: what happens after?
Intro: On the forest floor in deepest China sat a Panda. We shall call her Ailu. Ailu was bored stiff by all of the sitting around. Daily life was a pretty rigid routine of sleeping a LOT, waking up, scratching bellies for a few hours contentedly, doing some *important* business, and then, importantly, wonderfully, sitting down for 9 hours to eat bamboo ALL.DAY.LONG. Monday = the same. Tuesday = more of the same. Wednesday...you get the idea.
As I was saying, Ailu was sat on the floor one absolutely normal Thursday when she heard a soft fluttering sound above her. Nothing much happened above pandas except tall shoots of bamboo that could be bent over and munched on. This was different. Nothing flutters in the jungle except those terrifying butterflies that would tell butterfly jokes: "What looks like half a butterfly?
The other half.
My mom got really upset when I threw our butter out of my window.
I just wanted to see a butterfly." If you tried to swipe them with your sharp claws, they'd flutter an inch to the right and keep on telling more jokes: "I’m really nervous about this bug-eating contest.
I’ve got butterflies in my stomach."
But that's another story. Ailu looked up and saw strange black and white sheet softly bashing against the leaves of the canopy. Slowly, it was getting lower and lower. As a bored panda having a dull as dishwater Thursday, this was EXCITING! It dropped a bit lower. She swiped her large mitt of a paw across the air. "It's a newspaper." she cried out. The other pandas barely looked up. They were just sitting around with their eyes closed, chomping on bamboo, only pausing to sigh in pleasure, "Ahhhhhhh." Now, you may be thinking this doesn't make sense! Why would a panda know what a newspaper was. Well, like so many things, there are secrets about pandas that most people simply don't know. Pandas are relentless readers and highly educated. They just love bamboo even more and get distracted. Ailu reached up and snatched the newspaper. It was a paper called the the New York Times - great - a high-brow newspaper. Pandas hate to read easy newspapers. They enjoy the best journalism. On the very first page was a headline:
The Great International Talent Contest Hits Town Dancers, singers, spoon swallowers, and all other skills welcome!
Ailu was giddy with excitement. What's the one thing that pandas love more even than bamboo? No, not spoon swallowing. DANCING! A talent contest and they want dancers. What did Ailu do next? Well, I'll tell you. She... You finish it. =)