How To Write A Fiction Story - Fleshing Out Your Idea
By Bruce Hale
I can't count the number of times someone has buttonholed me at a party and said, "So you write children's books? I've got a great idea for a book." Sometimes it really is a great idea; sometimes it's the kind that makes you grimace politely and dive for the punchbowl.
If having a great idea were all it took to become a published author, every other actor and pop singer would have a children's book. (Oh, wait; they do? Bad example.)
For those of us without worldwide name recognition, it helps to understand how to develop our initial brainstorm into a full-grown story. Although this is a big topic, here some quick tips to get you started.
Question yourself The seed of a story can sprout up from almost anything. Sometimes the character comes first, sometimes the concept, and sometimes the setting. Sometimes all you've got is a visual image. Expand that initial notion by asking yourself questions like:
What if? This is one of the best idea starters around. "What if an orphan boy discovered he was a powerful wizard?" "What if a woman could see dead people's spirits?" Then keep asking, "and what would that lead to?"
What do I know? One of the oldest clichés in writing is "write what you know." Are you an expert on skydiving? Have you scaled the 12 highest mountains worldwide? Are you the most talented quilter in your town? Use your knowledge to establish setting, character, or action of your story.
What do I want to know? Don't limit yourself to only writing about your current set of knowledge. Consider things you'd like to learn about, and immerse yourself in them. I love jazz, so I researched Ella Fitzgerald's life and wrote an article on it.
Who cares? Who in your story would care most passionately about the central issue? (This helps you identify both protagonist and antagonist, as the central issue should matter to both.)
Whose eyes? Which point-of-view (POV) will provide the most compelling way to tell the story? Do you want a first-person POV - more immediate, but limited? Or do you want an omniscient POV - more distant, but limitless? Which character will carry the reader through your tale?
Where's the beef? After you've got your main character sorted out, consider the conflict. Who will thwart the main character? What internal conflicts will your hero have to face?
Your initial questions will lead to more questions and more ideas, and before you know it, you're on your way to crafting a story.
Bruce Hale is the author and illustrator of more than 20 books for kids, including the bestselling Chet Gecko Mysteries and Underwhere. Find out more about how to write and publish children's books from his popular free e-newsletter at http://www.brucetalks.com