1. Listen to a song: Close your eyes and picture the setting (time and place). Who are the characters? What are their backgrounds, names, quirks, feelings, struggle/problem? What events lead up to this scene, and how do you perceive the drama will resolve?
2. Read a poem: again imagine the setting, characters, and story behind the brief words
3. Read stories in the news, current or from years gone by: Imagine the clip in further detail. What other people or events could have led to this event? How might the story play out and ultimately conclude? Expand the scene in your imagination. Sketch (in drawing or words) the characters. Change names, setting, and a few details in the process of making the story your own.
4. Don't underestimate the power (and creative value) of eavesdropping! Spend an hour or an afternoon sitting in a coffee shop, cafe, bookstore, park, bus/train/airport terminal. Bring a notebook or laptop and jot notes of conversations you overhear as well as descriptions of random strangers. List details you ascertain, starting with what you observe and then fill in missing pieces such as names, occupations, personality traits, hobbies, beliefs, secrets, etc. For a twist, consider having two unconnected people meet and how they would interact, what trouble they could cause, how they would clash or commune.
5. Watch a movie: Determine how the story would be different with different characters in a different place and/or time. Again, add some unique twists or alterations to make your new take on the basic plot.
6. Image: Study a piece of artwork or a photograph and begin asking questions. Who lives or plays here? What is happening? Why? What are the people thinking, feeling, planning?