As a writer, there’s nothing better than getting a great idea for a new story. Something exciting, something unique, something…in need of some work. Before you can start writing, you need more than just an idea – a lot more. But where do you start when all you’ve got is an initial “What if..?” Read on for some practical ways to get your story started. And remember, nothing you do at this point is binding -you’re just exploring!
1) Word boards
Kind of like mood boards (which I’ll get to in a minute), but consisting of, you guessed it, words. You could start with just a hotch-potch of any words relating to what you want to write, but you may want to then look at doing more than one board to cover different areas. For example, words around the themes you want to cover, words relating to different characters (or ideas of characters), words about your settings, words relating to how you want the book to make people feel – just a whole bunch of words really.
2) Mood boards
Ah, the mood board – useful for so many things! I cover how writers can use the online go-to Pinterest if you’re interested. But you don’t have to use Pinterest, good old paint, etc will do the job. You don’t even have to go online, the traditional way of using magazines and scissors works too. As with your word board, you could just put in everything relating to your story, or break it up into themes. What’s nice about this and the word board is it gives you something to refer back to when you actually start writing, to get you into the right mindset.
3) Character sketches
It may be your kick-ass idea is focused on a character. If so, developing your story by fleshing out that character is a great way to start. Your characters are the lynchpins of your plot after all. As you work on your character you’ll naturally find your world, your plot and other characters will develop too. And if you haven’t thought about characters yet, why not try sketching out ideas of who they could be.
4) Location sketches
I have a blog post detailing how writers can “draw” their stories, but at the start of the journey, it can be handy to picture (literally) where your characters are. You don’t have to be a supreme artiste to do this, no one ever has to see what you draw. But a sketch of a room, a map of a town, or maybe even the beginnings of an entire continent are all ways to develop your setting and therefore your story.
Thinking isn’t exactly “hands to the pump” practical I know, but I believe this part of the writing process is overlooked and before you start writing you should do it. A lot. And you need headspace to do that. So turn off the TV, put down the phone, and start thinking. If you can, get out and about. Take a pen and paper if you think you’d like to make notes. But sometimes simply running an idea around in your head for a while helps you to form it up into something solid so you can start to write.
So there are a few ways you can start to develop your story. Do you have any you’d like to add? Please share in the comments.