Thank you for stopping by today. My post is about where to get story ideas, from my six part series on how to write a novel. I will be posting weekly as I get ready to publish the series on YouTube complete with workbook to follow along.
The first place to get story ideas is to think back to when you grew up and your favorite things to do.
Did you go swimming with your friends…play baseball…were you in scouting?
Each of us has stories we can tell our kids and grandkids. Well, guess what? Those stories make interesting reading for people.
My favorite thing to do growing up was to hang out at a stone quarry near my home town. We’d swim, hike, and fish in the summer and ice skate in the winter as kids. When we were seniors we would swim, ride our dirt bikes and have parties out there. This was our own Disney Park.
Diving off cliffs 20 feet high into 30 feet of water.
The water was emerald in color and clear when you opened your eyes underwater, because the bottom was stone lined.
The takeaway here is that there are things you probably loved doing and friends you did them with…that stand out.
The second place is right in your family. Think about things that happened with your brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents.
How about all the delicious food at family reunions and seeing your cousins. Was your favorite uncle a storyteller?
Did you help with chores? Play games together? Go on camping trips…stay at your grandparents sometimes?
You can start shaping these memories into stories. The smallest notion from a memory can blossom into so much more.
All of these examples to think over…friends and family memories can bare fruit. Put a value on your memories and get creative.
One of the best comments you can get on your stories review’s is, “Author invests time in characterization”. Giving a character personality will endear your reader’s to your writing style.
Here’s an example:
I wrote the trilogy “Lost Between the Continents”about my grandfather, Ernest Woodward, and his trek across the Atlantic.
It took three books to chronicle his life beginning in the year 1889, London, England. He crossed the Atlantic when he was 17 and ran away from home to start a new life in America.
Well, I was able to tell the story of Ernest’s London life by filling in all the gaps. There were some things I knew – his mother died when he was 5, his dad was in the shipping business and he remarried when Ernest was 12. So I created characters to carry the story up to his departure from England. They needed personalities to blend with his effort to gain his independence.
For example you can ascribe a personality trait that stands out from one of your friends or family, to a particular character you might be using in a story…. I used this trick to give personality to Miss Adams, the maid at Ernest’s house in “Another Chance.” I didn’t know the maids name…I just knew that she was older and helped raise my grandfather after his mother passed.
I used my grandmother’s personality when I wrote Miss Adam’s part in the story. I could envision her while I wrote. My grandmother was a short little fluffy woman, always bustling around the kitchen, wearing a big apron, baking bread, hugging on we kids, and singing. She cared about every detail of my brother’s and sister’s day.
When Ernest moved to the United States, I knew where he lived, what he did, and how my dad grew up with him. They were very close.
So I had a framework to build on. That’s what you can do too. Create characters with personalities that help tell the story about your main character and his journey.
Biographical fiction makes for great stories. And when you relate it to your family, it becomes an unexpected treasure. Take a fragmented history and give it perspective and closure. Readers will love it and so will your family for giving them closure and perspective on their lives. All families have voids in their history. Things that happened and didn’t get passed down through the generations.
You can connect a lot of dots by researching your family’s bloodline on the internet.
The third place to draw ideas from is local events that happened while growing up, or that are going on currently.
Were there things that happened in your town or nearby that were in the news? Those can make for great stories if you dig deep enough.
Take a current event and use your imagination.
You could use a gigantic event like the Corona virus: do some research and conjure up a story about a young intern who sees his calling as the inventor of the vaccine that saves mankind – and then make a way for it to happen.
Make it positive…people like to be in on a solution from the ground up.
The fourth place to consider is your neighbors at different places you’ve lived.
When I wrote the Pocket Book of short stories, one story was about two brothers that grew up in Venezuela. They had come to the United States twenty years ago and worked hard to get their electrical licenses and then got into management and ultimately started their own company.
They were our neighbors and 2 or 3 nights a week we would set out by our pool in the evening and they would tell us of how they grew up in Venezuela and the stories were tremendous. After a time, I started chronicling them and eventually published their story. It was that exact book of short stories that helped me choose my genre of Biographical fiction, which gives the writer a spine to build a story around.
Thank you for being here. My next post will be on how to create an outline.
See you then.