What Will I Write About? – Tuesday Writing Tip

Today’s post is for young writers who follow my blog but the principles apply to anyone who wants to create inspiring and unique stories.

Ever find yourself staring at a blank screen or piece of paper and wondering where to start? I do and I’m an author.

Here are where some of my best story ideas come from:

  • Things that have really happened to me or to people I know;
  • Memories of people, events or places;
  • People I see on trains and buses;
  • Conversations I overhear;
  • Newspaper articles;
  • Other books;
  • A picture in a magazine;
  • A place I have been to;
  • A smell, sound or feeling;
  • A problem or dilemma being faced by someone I know;
  • Playing with two words that don’t quite go together eg Flower attack;
  • Using the last line of a story I have written as the first line in a new piece of writing;
  • Thinking of a secret that someone might want to keep and what would happen if it was discovered
  • Imagining getting a letter or email from someone I have never met

If I’m still stuck, I think of a character/name and match them with an action to try and get me started.

For example:

  • Ashley fell
  • Ashley twisted
  • Ashley tumbled…
  • Ashley rocketed…
  • Ashley flew…
  • Ashley flopped…
  • Ashley leapt…
  • Ashley shook…
  • Ashley dropped…
  • Ashley shivered…
  • Ashley trembled…
  • Ashley bobbed…
  • Ashley soared…
  • Ashley is…

Then I ask myself why this action happened to Ashley, where this action happened, when and how?

THINGS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR STORY

Every story needs a catalyst – an action that starts the story on its course. At the start of your story, something will happen that changes things for the main character.

Every story needs a problem for your character. There is something they want and someone or something is stopping them from getting it. That’s what your story is about.

As a writer, you need to decide how your main character is going to solve their problem – and that’s where you will finish your story.

EDITING

After I’ve finished writing my story, I edit it to make sure it is the best it can be. I ask myself these questions:

  • Have I hooked the reader in from the start?
  • Does the beginning of my story give the reader some idea of what it’s about?
  • Does my story say what I wanted it to?
  • Will the meaning be clear to others?
  • Is there enough happening in my story to keep the reader interested?
  • Will readers like my main character and care what happens to them?
  • Are my characters believable?
  • Have I used similes and metaphors and interesting language?
  • Have I used the strongest, most effective words possible?
  • Is my ending strong enough to satisfy the reader?
  • Have I checked to make sure that all my spelling and grammar is correct?

Give your creativity free reign and see how a small idea can become a really big story.

If you have any other tips about where story ideas can come from, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to leave them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)

Dee

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20 thoughts on “What Will I Write About? – Tuesday Writing Tip

  1. My favorite start a story prompt is “What would I want to read?”

    I write fantasy and SF primarily, so I’m not looking to write directly about the conflicts in my own life. I’m looking for conflicts larger than my life that become so immersive I forget about what hurts. So I load on the trouble. A really great way for me to start is to choose something cool I’d want – telepathy, for example – and then look at the down side of it.

    Would you really like to overhear the thoughts of every angry and dysfunctional person you ever met? Or maybe just one abused person, constantly… so for that story I drew on life and drew on SFF together. I take very common story themes and turn them inside out. Sometimes the up side of a disaster can also be interesting.

  2. Good advice, Dee, as per usual. 🙂

    Robert, interesting thoughts. Talking about hearing the thoughts of every person, I’m wondering if you’ve read Patrick Ness’s ‘Chaos Walking’ trilogy. http://www.patrickness.com/books.html

    Brilliant books! Thrilling, nerve-racking, amazing characters and plot. I absolutely loved these books, I reckon you would too. 🙂

  3. @Dee, Simply Love the name of your blog. I saw DeeScribeWritingblog and like how that implies describing the art of writing. Good post too, for all ages, beginning and advanced writers as well.

    Action verbs are where it’s at, I agree. So why at the end of the list the pedestrian “Ashley is?” I wonder.

    Treating my own question as a rhetorical one, I realize we don’t always need action verbs, as long as action will follow an inactive verb.

    Ashley is bored, she’s so bored, she can’t stand herself any longer, she’s bored with herself being bored. Ashley is looking for adventure. She flew…

  4. I’m giggling, Dee.

    I’m one of many who just completed #PiBoIdMo (a picture book idea every day for the month of November) and the joke is that we can’t wail, ‘I don’t know what to write!’ anymore. Because there are 30 ideas just waiting to be written. Take your pick! That’s the theory…

  5. Forgot to mention, when I don’t know what to write, I read somebody else’s blog posts and respond 😉 But more often than that I look at a photograph and start imagining who is who in the picture, and what if I were in his or her shoes, where would I be going, what would I be saying? What is happening in the picture that the photographer wasn’t able to show?

  6. Thanks for dropping in, Judith.

    You are absolutely right. “Is” is not what you would call an active verb, it’s more of an ‘intriguing’ one. Ashley “is”, “can be” so many things:)

    Dee

  7. Thanks, Sheryl,

    Patrick Ness’s books are sitting on my shelf and I haven’t read them yet. Hoping to get all the review books from 2010 finished soon so I can sit back and enjoy the ones I picked for myself to read:)

    Dee:)

  8. Excellent advice and writing “prompts” for writers of ALL ages. People often ask where I get my ideas for stories from – your list answers their question. It’s great that you can connect with young readers/writers and get them started in the right direction.

    I took the time to ask myself all of your editing questions, too…..boy, do I have a lot of NaNo work to do!

  9. Hi Dee,

    I love the idea of writing the story that says what I want it to. I try to look for what I really want to say. Not merely the ideas sitting in my mind but something that no one else can say, quite like me. Something I may have to dig to find but when I do it will be like finding a gold mine.

    And I love to read for inspiration. When I read the words of writers I love, it’s like finding an oasis in a desert.

  10. I especially like the editing tips you have in this post. They are simple and not overly wordy. Some people go on and on, but you get to the point and express it without “too many notes!”

  11. Hi Shelley,

    That’s so true that reading the word of writers you love is “like finding an oasis in the desert”. I recently was having trouble finding my YA voice for a novel and it wasn’t until I read another one that I realised exactly how my character should ‘sound’.

    I also loved what you say about your story being unique. I know that my writing becomes mundane when I don’t dig deep enough:)

    Thanks for your input. You make some really good points.

    Dee:)

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