Ideas For Stories

After a school visit yesterday, I got an email from a sixth-grader who asked, "I want to write a story, but I don't know what to write about. Do you have any ideas for me?" I answered her off the top of my head, but I thought you might be interested in my response out here on the fire escape:
As for ideas, here's something I do. I invent a character. Then I make something interesting happen to that character. The story flows from there.

So, say your main character is a little old lady. And the interesting thing that happens is that a stray dog finds his way into her house and refuses to leave. Okay, so how does that change the old lady? Does she like him? Does she feed him?

That's a feeble example; I'm sure you can come up with something much better. So, invent a character that you either love or hate or feel sorry for or are irritated by. Get that person straight in your imagination. Then make something happen in that person's life, and write the story from there.
It's true. My stories usually start with a character coming to life in my mind. How about yours?