Eleven year old
Maddison wants to be a writer and has asked where I get ideas from. That’s a
great question because every story has to start with an idea!
Ideas come from
thoughts, and thoughts come from all our senses, as well as our emotion and
everything we remember and imagine. That can add to millions of thoughts a day
(I just made that figure up – maybe it’s thousands. A lot, anyway.) How do we
turn some of those into ideas that can be built into a story?
The answer is:
Questions! The first questions are usually, ‘What if?’ or ‘Why?’ or ‘How?’ or ‘What
To show you what I
mean, I gave myself a challenge to find some new ideas on my morning walk.
not-very-great picture of a nest fallen on the ground. To turn this into a
story I’d ask:
|What happened here?|
1) What happened to the baby birds? Had they
already flown away?
(I really hope so, and I think they had, because the nest looks old - but that
wouldn’t make a story. So for the
rest of the questions we’ll say that the eggs or baby birds were still in
2) How did it fall out of the tree?
a) The wind.
b) A predator bird or animal.
c) A bad person - why are they doing it?
d) An alien - what do they think the eggs are?
3) What happens next?
a) The protagonist (hero) tries to
rescue them and put the nest back in the tree. How do they do that? Climb the
tree? What happens if they fall out? Or meet an eagle? Or get into trouble
because someone thinks they’re trying to steal the nest?
b) The birds are an
endangered species – so a poacher is going to raise the birds and sell them to
zoos. Now how does the hero try to stop them?
c) The aliens are
going to hatch them…
3) Where is the nest? What's on the other side of that fence?
So, you just keep on
asking questions. Remember that there aren't any wrong answers - there are only answers that will lead to better questions to make the best possible story.
Of course I saw lots
of things on my walk: blackberries – not much of a story there, but what if you
put blackberry bushes under the tree that someone’s climbing to steal or rescue
What about the sisters
I heard arguing?
Or the sign for the school fete?
Or the empty holiday house – where one day my dog ran away and went in the dog door. The dog door was locked from the inside so that he couldn’t get
out… There are lots of chances for a story there!
Labels: children writing, creative writing, getting ideas for writing, getting started writing, story prompts, story questions, writing prompts