Some writers ideas randomly come to them and they write them down in a notebook and start creating subplots, weaving everything together to make a well connected story. For other writers coming up with story ideas can actually be really tough. Your story ideas need to be original. Avoid copying other writers and their plot lines.
It is worth brainstorming some new ideas you may be thinking. Determine what makes your story unique and different. It is the spin that you put on all of those little subplots that make the relationships and connections between your characters stand out are actually really important. Add your own twist to the story.
Here are 7 tips for coming up with story ideas for your book.
1) Determine what genre you want to write in.
2) Determine your audience: how old will your readers be EX: children, young adults, new adults, adults.
- If your main characters are 12 years old and younger that you are technically writing a children’s book.
- If your characters are ages 13 through 18 think high school age then you are writing a young adult book.
- If your characters are 19 through 30 think more college age coming into being an adult, then you’re writing a new adult book.
- If your characters are older than 30 then you are probably writing an adult book.
Remember that by determining your audience you are setting up the tone and the theme for the book you’re going to write.
3) Your book can have more than one theme, just like you can have more than one plot. You can have sub themes, just make sure you have one major theme and one major plot. Then you can add in subplots and sub-themes to keep your story from falling flat.
4) Brainstorm now that you have your genre, target audience, and theme. Most likely you have already had a few ideas that have been floating around in your head that you’ve jotted down in a notebook somewhere. If not that is okay, you can start from scratch. Grab a large piece of paper and write your main theme in the center with a large circle around it. Underneath the theme you can write in smaller letters what challenge your main character is going to have to face and overcome. If you don’t know what challenge yet that is okay. Sometimes it is actually easier to brainstorm how you want your book to end and then work backwards to craft your story. Draw branches out from that main circle like a tree and start writing down any ideas that come to mind for your story, good or bad. Write every idea down on this large sheet of paper even if they don’t make sense at the time you are brainstorming. You may be surprised how later some of those nonsense ideas can actually be added into your story or reworked a little bit to add more depth to your plot or a subplot and it actually ends up really helping you out. There is no such thing as a bad idea.
5) Use resources. The writers idea thesaurus by Fred white gives you endless ideas at your fingertips. It can be fun to open up the writers idea thesaurus to a random page and just read one of the random ideas that’s in that book. Don’t use exactly what’s written on the page but sometimes it can give you a spark of inspiration.
6) Use your ideas to make a rough outline. In another post there is a great way to outline your book ideas.
7) Just begin writing even if it’s terrible, even if your story doesn’t fully make sense to you just yet. The writing process is all about discovering your story. You as the writer take yourself on a journey to discover your story’s potential. You discover your story as you write. The first draft is for your eyes only anyway. Write, have fun and enjoy the process as your story unfolds.
Some writing advice to aspiring authors as well as how to manage your time. Here is an outlining and highlighting process that might help you with your writing. It is best to have some idea as to where your story is going to go. Most people can not just sit down and start writing. Outlines can help you when you write your first book or your first series. As you start to get more comfortable with your writing style and your flow, you can get into your own groove and rhythm. You start to learn what works best for you.
In the beginning, just a very basic outline so you have the beginning, middle and end is helpful. Then some scenes may be thrown in here and there to help you remember your ideas. By no means have every scene or act completely written out and figured out before you write. With a basic outline you can add in, create and just imagine. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
Five stage outlining process:
1) a major brain storm of all the story ideas that you have in a notebook, or on the notes function in your phone or on your computer.
With those ideas written down, it is fun to play the what-if game like a) what if this happens b) what if this were to happen. The ideas can be vague in the beginning. Make sure to write them down. Ideas can be for one book or for multiple books. Any character ideas, scene ideas, chapter ideas anything that comes to mind. Write all of it down because if you don’t write it down you may not remember.
2) Try the poster board method. Take a large piece of paper or poster board, divide that poster board up by drawing two lines, then label each section chapter 1 and chapter 2 to begin. If you know the ending before you know anything else, start with chapter 3. Write down how the book is going to end or how you imagined it. Add theme or feelings you want to draw out for the reader. Ideas or characters conflict or the resolution is normally what is happening in chapter 3. Some authors like to work backwards and write down any ideas that might lead up to that you have in chapter 3, plot twists that are happening in chapter 1 or 2 that will bring you to your chapter 3 content.
3) Use index cards to write everything that you wrote down on your poster board. Write down each scene or idea and organize them a little bit more. Add a little more detail if it comes to you or if you have a new idea, write it on a new index card. Place them on the floor or on a table, and start moving them around to where you think they would fit. It will give you an idea as to how the story is going to flow. Refer to the beginning, middle and end you have already written down. This will help you get into the nitty-gritty of your book and all of the things that you want to have happen in your story. Take a picture of it before you pick up the cards. You can pin the cards on the poster board so you can see everything. Add index cards with new ideas into the story. Go ahead and write the first chapter when the whole story is really fresh in your mind.
4) Start to write and see what comes up as you write. Once you have written the first chapter you can go to your outline. Update the outline with the chapters as you go. Update chapter 1. Write chapter 2 then update your outline with the chapter 2 information. Then do it for chapter 3 and so on.
5) Update your outline immediately after writing or as soon as you can.
Use the color yellow to highlight where you last left off in your manuscript, also highlight the chapter on your outline so you can remember exactly where you were working on your document.
For things that need to be added in later you can highlight in green.
Highlight in orange when you want to check facts or for accuracy.
Highlight in pink for character or setting details that need to be fleshed out a little bit more. Pink can also be used for a new character or a new setting, region or place.
If you are having a scene or a chapter that you are having a hard time writing about or are not feeling motivated to write, highlight those areas in blue so it reminds you to circle back and either write that chapter, paragraph, or scene over.
Use the same highlighting tool in your outline so it is easier to reference when looking at the outline. You can easily go to your manuscript find the chapter and then find the highlighted area and know exactly where you left off and what you need to do next.