I recently signed a contract for a fantasy. I’ve been thinking about fantasy a lot. I eagerly watched every episode of Game of Thrones last Spring. When I checked NPR’s top 100 list of science fiction and fantasy http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139085843/your-picks-top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books. I had read most of the books on the list. Some of my favorites were missing: Robert Silverberg‘s Lord Valentine’s Castle, Gene Wolfe‘s Soldier in the Mist,and Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds.
Fantasy and science fiction are speculative by nature, full if “what if” questions. These are the questions you ask yourself as you design your story sequence.
I find that reading fiction, and speculative fiction in particular, is a great imaginative prompt when I am creating a new story. I have not read any scientific evidence that this helps, but I personally find it a great prompt when I am working on creating the story line.
If you find no inspiration in plot spreadsheets, story prompts and other “logical” helpers, you may find that getting out of your story and into another may be just the place you find the solutions.