Day 3: Finding an Idea

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40 Day Writing Challenge Day 3
Over the last two days, I’ve introduced the 40 Day Writing challenge and talked about how to get started. However, one of the writers told me she had no idea where to even begin finding an idea. If this sounds familiar to you, buckle up. I’m about to show you.

1. Start With Who You Are

My writing friend happens to be an energy healer, so I suggested to her that she make that the main character of her book. She’s studied the topic, she knows a lot about it already, and it’s interesting to her. That makes writing a story a lot easier because you’re not having to try and imagine how something would work. You know how it works.

2. Find a Big Conflict

Take that main character and drop them in a situation that is going to challenge them. For an energy healer, it might be an out-of-control epidemic and Western medicine is unable to find the cure. For a computer programmer, it might be a race to program an app that will win the epic prize money needed to pay off the mortgage before it gets foreclosed. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is, but it needs to be epic enough that people will find themselves drawn into seeing whether or not they can overcome the challenge.

3. Choose an action

No matter how epic the conflict, it doesn’t matter that it exists until your main character gets involved in it. So, choose an action that shows how your main character is going to address that big conflict.

4. Choose a goal

Why did your character choose that particular action, and not some other action? What were they hoping to accomplish? This matters because it shows their personality and reveals just a little bit about how they think.

5. Choose an unexpected result

This is the secret sauce in it all. Don’t give your main character what they wanted. Set up a plot twist for them by giving them something they didn’t expect out of all the action they’ve taken. What are they going to learn about themselves or about others that’s going to cause them to grow and change?

This Is Just a Basic Idea

You don’t have to use this method to put together your story idea, but it’s one way I’ve found very helpful. You don’t have to start with yourself, either. You can make your main character anything you like. I find that basing it on some aspect of myself makes it easier to keep their voice straight in my head, but do whatever works for you.

Still Stumped?

Try searching our Flash Fiction Saturday. See if one of those doesn’t spark an idea.

Today’s Planning Strategy: Ask Questions

You can skip on over to this blog post to find the techniques I use to build out more of the story. It starts by asking myself a list of questions about the synopsis that didn’t get answered, and then I take it from there.

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