February 22, 2017 by Valerie Ullmer
How I Learned to Write – February 22nd, 2017
Before you start outlining your story, and before you even ask what if questions to develop your plot, you need a good idea.
Ideas are sometimes easy to come by. You see a TV show or a movie where something about the story or the characters catches your attention and won’t let you go. Or you overhear a conversation at a restaurant and your imagination fills in what you don’t hear and come up with ideas of what might happen after they leave. If you are an avid reader, you will no doubt get ideas from the books you read. By no means do I mean plagiarize. But if there is a concept in a book you like, you should develop your own story.
For instance, A common concept in romance books are about women who work as an assistant to a billionaire and as they get to know each other, they eventually fall in love. Such a basic idea such as that, developed and written by you, will be unique because of your experiences and thought processes. Another example is taking an old story, like Beauty and the Beast or Tarzan, and rewriting it into your own version of the story.
You are unable to copyright an idea, but the story you create from that an idea is your own.
The most important piece of advice I can give you is to write your ideas down the moment you have them. No matter how many times you tell yourself that you will remember, you really won’t. The details slip away and by the time you write it down, the idea has dwindled to almost nothing.
Ideas will come to you at the most inopportune times. For me, it’s usually right before I fall asleep or while I’m walking my dog. I love to write them in a notebook because I can expand on my ideas as I write them. I think of the conflict that could be possible in the story, personalities of my characters, and how the story could end. But when I don’t have access to my pen and notebook, the notes app on my iPhone works just as well, until I can transfer it to my notebook. I do have to stop walking until all of my thoughts are written down, but it’s better than losing the idea altogether.
And throughout your writing career, you should often go back and read over the ideas you’ve had. It might have not been the right time to start the story when you wrote it down, but circumstances and even your mood can dictate what you want to write about and idea you had several years ago might become your next book.
But also know this. Ideas that might have seemed to have real potential when you wrote them down may seem out of touch or you can’t see a clear story from the notes you have written down. Don’t get discouraged. Ideas are everywhere and when you have them, just try to develop them as much as possible while it’s fresh in your mind. I wouldn’t try to force an idea into a novel. Write a book you are passionate about!
Where to find ideas:
Look up Writing Prompts. There are a lot of ideas from short descriptions or a picture prompt.
Author Advice Sites and Blogs: