I read an interview recently in which a novelist said the origin of his book was reading a news story about a heroic act and wondering whether he would have acted differently. This strikes me as a great starting point for a story in just about any genre--because if you come up with a situation that makes you wonder how you'd react, it's highly likely that it will resonate with your readers as well.
Naturally when you write your story or novel or screenplay you don't have to stick with how you would react. But if the question has a emotional charge, it's well worth exploring.
We tend to go automatically to the most dramatic option but sometimes there is rich material in considering more subtle responses.
For instance, let's say somebody is near the site of a fire and sees that there are two children inside, afraid to come out. The most dramatic options are to go in and save the children and be a hero, or to rush away, afraid, and consider yourself a coward. But let's think of some other options:
* You rush in to try to help but you suffer permanent damage and regret your heroism;
* You rush in but inadvertantly make things worse and one of the children perishes when it could have been saved by the firefighters who show up right after you do;
* You run away and one of the children perishes and you become obsessed with trying to help, anonymously, the one who survived.
The possibilities are endless. And even if you don't use this method to generate stories you write, it's a great way to warm up your writing brain.