Here's one of my favorite exercises to get the creative juices flowing and to quickly come up with some fun story ideas. It's also great to do in groups and can produce some very good ideas in a hurry.
All you need to do is to take a popular movie or book and re-imagine its story in a different genre. For example:
SCARY Home AloneA child is left home alone after his parents are killed in a car accident while running out for milk. His home is set upon by a murderous duo of thieves and the child must defend his home against them using everyday objects as weapons, or die!
FUNNY TwilightWhen a moody teenage girl moves to a creepy new town she soon finds herself falling for a brooding local hunk. The problem? He's a zombie. Is there love after death, or will he just end up breaking her heart and eating her brain?
That's it! Take something funny and make it scary. Or scary and make it funny, or romantic, or dramatic, or whatever. The idea is to think about things in an unusual way and to find new slants on familiar plots. It's fun and easy and you'll be amazed at how many great ideas will come out of it - also a lot of bad, but funny ones.
Here's one more to get you started. How about...
ROMANTIC SawA driven and solitary female reporter and a workaholic male doctor are kidnapped by a sadistic killer and chained together in a room. After initially detesting one another they eventually fall in love and each attempts to sacrifice themselves to save the other. Although it initially appears that they have both died, they are revealed to be alive and well at the end. The psycho wasn't trying to kill them, but to help them realize that love was missing from their lives.
OK, so that one was pushing it, but remember these don't have to be good! The idea is to see how far you can stretch your creative muscles and to get the pen moving across the page, which some days is all we need.
Give it a shot, you'll like it.