Often times it feels daunting to write an original story. With millions of books on the shelves, it can seem like everything’s been covered. After all, there’s that old saying that claims there are only seven plot lines in the whole world. But take heart: every person has a story to tell. Your imagination, your quirks, and your life experiences will make your words unique. Sometimes you just need a little help getting started. Here are 7 prompts to use when you’re not sure where to begin.
1. Look at the world around you, and ask “what if” about things we take for granted. What if the sky was red? What if your little brother was actually an alien? What if you found a million dollars?
2. Browse through the artwork on Storybird until a picture jumps out at you and makes you wonder, what’s happening here? Who are these people? Where are they, and how did they get there? What are they going to do next?
3. Start with a character who seems interesting to you. Maybe it is a character who has your same habits or fears or strengths and uses them in meaningful ways. Or maybe it is a character who is nothing like you, and that’s what makes them interesting to write about. How they would approach different situations?
4. Pick a genre, or type of storytelling. Do you like history? Then write about a time or place as it used to be. Do you like fantasy? Then start by thinking about how a world would work if it had different rules than ours, and fill it up with magic or supernatural creatures. Do you like romance? Then take two characters and put a lot of obstacles between them so the way they get together becomes a tale.
5. Ask your friends or family what they like to read, and write a story just for them! (Hint: this is a great Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gift idea.)
6. Solve a mystery. Which one of these characters is hiding a secret? Who is watching whom?
7. Remember those seven plots we mentioned at the beginning of this post? Use them to your advantage. Match a piece of artwork on Storybird with one of the storylines below, and take it for a spin!
Overcoming the Monster
Rags to Riches
Voyage and Return
Most important, have fun. I mean, a Voyage and Return story about three aliens abducting an elephant from the African Safari? I am pretty sure that will be an original story. All you have to do is start writing it.