There are always story ideas around, you just have to be open to them. One really good way of finding a story is by taking a look at the people around you. Is there anyone who piques your interest? What are they wearing, doing, saying? What do they look like? Any features that stand out to you? Take notice of their body language. Then think about why they are where they are today, for example if they’re on a train where are they traveling from/to and why? (Obviously that part is purely your opinion.) You now have a character and maybe you even have a storyline too. They could be running away from home, or even an undercover MI5 agent.
Also make sure to listen to the conversations around you. You might hear something interesting. The last time I listened in to a conversation, it was between two old ladies and they were discussing how many bananas they’d bought and the amazing value of them. Obviously I didn’t manage a story out of that one!
I’ve never been too good at the people watching side of things, but my favourite way is observing any kind of commotion/altercation. Just the other night, my neighbour was having an argument outside with his girlfriend. I sat on the floor next to the door, listening through the letterbox. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to hear anything because my mum told me off for being ‘nosey.’ Yes, I guess I was being nosey, but it always feels better when there’s a reason for it. I was annoyed at her for the rest of the night for potentially preventing an amazing story idea.
Even if your mind feels blank now, just wait because your next idea may be just around the corner.
I’d like to think I’m a pretty good writer, but there is one thing I can’t get my head around and that’s apostrophes… I understand the use of using them if two words are shortened to one, such as can’t and won’t, but I just can’t seem to get my head around the times when they are used to show possession.
One example I looked up that showed an apostrophe is ‘yesterday’s weather.’ So that means yesterday owns the weather? I just don’t get it!
If anyone understands, please leave a comment explaining it to me below. Thank you.
While I’m so in awe of people who can sit and write at any time of the day, that is just not me. If it was me, I would definitely get my books written a lot quicker, but as long as the sun is up, my brain does not work.
Daytime writing is a no no for me. I CAN write, just like every other person can write whenever they want, but it isn’t good. I feel so uninspired, end up staring at a blank page for ridiculous amounts of time and what I do write usually ends up getting deleted once I look back at it, with a thought of ‘what the hell was I thinking?’
Only at night does the story side of my brain start working. There are many reasons this could be why, for example, maybe it’s the fact it’s a lot quieter at night, so there’s less distractions. (I don’t like background noise whilst I’m writing. I can deal with music or the TV on with the volume down low, but people talking and things like that really puts me off.) Another big reason it could be is my anxiety. I’ve suffered from anxiety for years and at night it really starts to play up. My mind overthinks a lot at night and I also struggle to sleep. I also feel like my body clock is the opposite of what is expected. I always feel sleepy in the daytime and alert at night. I honestly think my body would prefer me to stay up all night and sleep all day instead. Weirdly enough, I only read at night too.
So remember, if you’re feeling uninspired, maybe you’ve just not found the right routine for yourself yet. Try out writing at different parts of the day, in different locations, with music on/off, TV on/off etc. and you may find when you’re really best at writing.
Personally when it comes to writing, I am a planner.
When I first started writing I didn’t plan at all. I would have an idea, work out a beginning and ending, who the main character was and then just go for it. Although this works for some people, it really didn’t work for me. I realised that my story was going nowhere. I was just writing and writing and writing, but there was no structure, no conflict… it was just very lacking in what a story needs. I had no idea where it was going to go next and pretty soon into it, I realised I had no clue how I was going to reach the ending. It wasn’t even the same story anymore.
I haven’t made this mistake since and it is due to my planning. I don’t go overboard with my planning, but I still need some form of it there to keep my story structured and going in the right direction. Now once an idea comes to mind and I’m ready to write, I plan my story out from beginning to end as a list of bullet points. I have also found an amazing trick I now use, which is that I keep a grid of characters and every time I write something in my story about a character (for example someone has a Ford car, or they used to have a pet dog named Milo,) I make a note of it under that character’s name. It just helps me out in the long run to look back at what I know about each character. I add to this as I write the story, because for me character attributes become more apparent the further into the story you get.
So, to plan or not to plan, which is right for you?
Since beginning university I have been looking at the work of other future writers in my course and comparing myself to their writing. Often it’s a – damn why didn’t I think of that? or, I wish I could write like that? But when you really think about… You shouldn’t ever compare yourself. Take a look at this poem for example:
As Soon as Fred Gets Out of Bed by Jack Prelutsky
As soon as Fred gets out of bed,
his underwear goes on his head.
His mother laughs, “Don’t put it there,
a head’s no place for underwear!”
But near his ears, above his brains,
is where Fred’s underwear remains.
At night when Fred goes back to bed,
he deftly plucks it off his head.
His mother switches off the light
and softly croons, “Good night! Good night!”
And then, for reasons no one knows,
Fred’s underwear goes on his toes.
This is a children’s poem that has a lot of humour in it! I wish that I could be funny, but writing humour doesn’t come naturally to me. What does come naturally to me though is emotion and who’s to say that Jack can grab your heart in the same way that I can? So yes, Jack has strong points that I don’t have in my writing, but instead of comparing myself I need to look at what I’m good at!
Over Christmas I had two portfolios of writing to complete along with two essays for university. Now, I don’t mind writing a story here and there but I ended up having to write about seven stories and six poems. Over a short space of time that is a lot of writing. Needless to say, I really struggled. I ended up handing in this as one of my poems:
Creatively drained – I’ve written and written and written and now my head is sore and empty. The blank page before me is craving doodles and words, but I have none left to give. Past pieces of paper have stolen them all away like burglars of ideas. Oh Facebook, calling out to me, I so wish to play your games, why are you trying to distract me? But the assignment’s due are glaring down at me like I’m a prisoner left with only one choice and that one choice is: to write.
And the lecturer hated it!
So I am in the process of editing MY FIRST EVER BOOK! It is a supernatural thriller aimed at young adult readers. There are vampires werewolves and…. well lets not spoil the rest!
I thought I would spoil you all with the beginning of my story:
‘I sit on the balcony, staring into the night sky, watching the stars flicker and shine. My legs dangle off the side through the cold, metal bars and a cool breeze whistles through my ears. It reminds me of all of the midnight walks me and Dahlia used to have when we were in our early teenage years. We would stop off in the middle of the woods and dance around, with the wind blowing through our thin, white dresses. Fireflies would glide around us, lighting up the dark shadows cast down from the tall trees, which were closely huddled together like a pack of wolves, under the big, circular moon.’