Have you ever entered a new project or got an idea for a new story (or even a genre you want to write for) and wondered how the heck you were actually going to create your new story idea? With a heavily palpating heart you grab your notebook or turn on your computer and stare at that blank screen.
This is not writer’s block, you haven’t even begun writing that blockbuster novel yet. This is something that comes first…tapping into that inner muse, that creative part of you that knows there is a story waiting to be told. Here are some tips for you.
Free-Flow Or Mind Map Your Idea
Don’t start writing – start creating. Turn your critical mind off and just start making notes or, if you prefer, use a mind mapping tool. My current favorite is bubbl.us. The goal here is to allow yourself the freedom to create, to allow anything and everything to speak to you.
As an example, I’ve recently discovered a sub-genre that I want to write for. It’s not something I’ve specifically written in before but I have written for the broader genre. But how could I begin when I only knew I wanted to write about something but didn’t yet know what that something was.
Well, it turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. I began with noting the sub-genre and then began jotting down some thoughts. And before I knew it a story began to emerge and then I thought, “What about this and this?” Before I knew it I was fleshing out what could become a series. Talk about getting all pumped up! I have ONE outline in place that would allow me to write numerous books if the series took off.
Tapping into that elusive muse is simply opening yourself up to new ideas and; to “What ifs!”
Do Some Initial Research
Before you get too far into your new writing project you need to ensure you can easily find your background information. Note, you don’t need to actually do your research, this is only to find out if there’s useful information available and with the internet, that’s easy enough to do. For instance, if you’re writing about aliens then search for, and bookmark, interesting websites; you’ll come back to those later. When you are first creating your story idea these sites should make you go, “Oh cool, I want to include something about that.” Use this technique to continue to brainstorm and flesh out your idea…the possibilities are endless.
Check out the market, too. While you shouldn’t be thinking yet of marketing and whether or not your book will be successful, you do want to know that once your novel or short story is complete there will be readers out there who will buy your book.
For instance, again using aliens as an example, are there readers out there searching for what you are going to write? Are you going to write fiction (probably) or non-fiction? And are readers looking for stories about how aliens invade earth and must be repelled or how earthlings explore and take over other worlds?
Go For A Walk
This is one of the best ways to let your juices get flowing some more. After,you have your initial thoughts written down and think you are onto something…go for a walk and ponder your idea (but take a notebook or your phone to record thoughts into).
Let your initial ideas run rampant and begin to sketch out your story. Begin to create the characters that you will need to tell your story. Let them start to speak to you and the story will begin to tell itself. With every excited step you take you will discover something new about your story, your characters, or even a specific scene that needs to be included. Make sure you jot them down or record them; there’s nothing worse for a writer than to get back home all excited and then forget what your walk revealed to you!
A side note – don’t get lost! Sometimes when we’re walking and creating we’re also living in the story and often may not notice where we are. And you don’t want to “wake up” and find yourself downtown or way out in the country wondering why the mountains appear to be much closer today.
Now “Backburner” Your Idea
Honestly, sometimes the best thing you can do for your story is to let it ferment, let it sit on the backburner while you carry on with the mundane things in life. Because guess what’s happening: your story is burbling away in the background and pieces are coming into place that, when you return to it, will reveal themselves and insist on being included in the plot.
Learning to backburner your book is particularly useful when you’re stuck at a certain place or you’re not sure how one of your characters should respond to a situation. Let it percolate for a while and the answer will reveal itself to you, often at an unbidden time such as at work or in the middle of making dinner. You will have that eureka moment…just make sure to write it down and even give yourself a few minutes to do so…this “moment” is longer than a minute and has a lot to tell you so you need to listen carefully.
I hope this helps you with your story idea. These are just a few things I do when I’m creating a new story or beginning to draft a new book or write for a new genre.
What are some techniques that have worked for you?