Book Review: The Idea Factory

The Idea Factory by Ryan Lanz

Book Description (from the author): One idea can create a book. One idea can spark a career.

Do you have a hard time coming up with ideas on what to write?

Countless writers love to write fiction. Exploring a plot and fleshing out characters is part of what makes the project fun. However, few things are worse than staring at a blank screen with no clue what to write next.

These 1,000 prompts are designed to give you the combination of the idea itself, as well as concepts to help you create your own. In the introduction, we discuss the different methods for creating story ideas to continue long after you read the last prompt.

You’ll find multiple genres represented, such as:
• Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Horror, Thriller/Suspense, Mystery, Children’s, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Paranormal, Humor, and Historical.

If you need help with inspiration, this is the book for you. Out of 1,000 story ideas and writing prompts, the beginnings of your next book is likely in these pages. Let’s find your next bestseller.

Book Review

I received a copy of this book as part of the author’s Beta Launch Team.

Over the years (have we really been blogging that long?), I’ve enjoyed writing tips and advice from my friend and fellow blogger, Ryan Lanz. My writing has improved as a result of his feedback, and his blog, A Writer’s Path, has offered me inspiration repeatedly through his use of Writing Prompts (this poem was written in response to just such a prompt).

And now, he has published a book full of these prompts, along with suggestions of how we, as creative people, can find ideas in a wide range of sources. Here’s a look at the book’s narration, content, artwork, and my overall response.

Narration: 5 out of 5. Ryan has a relaxed way of writing that is informative and inspiring without acting like a know-it-all, in my opinion (and I thought this before I became friends with him). With two books published and thousands of followers, he has good reason to be pleased with himself (and theoretically, condescending to the rest of us), but he is as encouraging and kind as ever. In a book that most of us will turn to during our darkest creative hours, this is ideal.

Content: 4 out of 5. The story prompts themselves are not necessarily the deepest, newest, most unheard-of concepts imaginable (this is a bring-your-own-imagination book, though).

I found some of them using stereotypes for characters as a quick way to get you started, and I’m not sure there’s a good way around this in a writing prompt format. To convey an idea quickly, stereotypes are required, and Ryan does a good job balancing them throughout the book. Men aren’t always brilliant, attractive superheroes, and women aren’t always defined by their roles (girlfriend, mother, etc.). Still, I felt like the content could have been a bit broader, embracing even more cultures and ethnicities over the thousand story ideas. (But, as I’ve written before, you have to write what you know, and this applies to story prompt books, too.)

Artwork: Subjective. The cover is very eye-catching and attractive, and I like how it includes a typewriter rather than a computer (suggesting that real writing is going on, and not just surfing the web and browsing Facebook or Twitter). 🙂

I think, as far as genres go, it leans a bit towards a science-fiction/fantasy/thriller/action/adventure kind of direction, rather than a romance/women’s fiction/literary fiction way, but I think that’s an accurate snapshot of the book. There are more prompts of the former than the latter, I felt, and again, I think this is representative of the author (at least, I’ve never heard Ryan mention that he was embarking on a romance/women’s fiction/literary fiction kind of book).

This isn’t to say that the book can’t help an author, regardless of their genre. An idea is an idea, and all of us will filter the writing prompts through our preferred genre and writing style. As long as the book gets us going, it’s done its job.

Overall Response: 9 out of 10, or 4.5 overall. The book has a very broad range, and despite its limitations, I felt like it does a great job giving us suggestions about what we could write about (and getting us writing something, just to prime our creative pumps). Some of the story prompts were emotionally engaging, even as they were, and I think there’s something for every genre and every author, no matter what you write, within the thousand prompts.

To read a sample of the prompts contained in Ryan’s new book, and to find out how to get your own copy, click here.


You can submit your own book for a review and find more here, at my Book Reviews page.

Copyright 2015 Andrea Lundgren

Photo courtesy of Ryan Lanz

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