Craft Corner: Generating Story Ideas

Hello and Happy New Year! We are thrilled to kick off 2021 with the Class of 2k21 Craft Corner! These posts will be dedicated to sharing writing tips and tricks we’ve picked up on our journeys to publication. Each month will feature a new theme with insights from members of the Class of 2k21; since we’re at the start of a new year, we’ve decided to start this series at the beginning of the writing journey: Generating Story Ideas.

Whether you are a long-time creative with too many ideas to wrangle or a beginner with no idea where to start, we hope you’ll find something you can apply to your writing journey. Let’s get started!

Megan E. Freeman: With everything I write, whether a book or a poem, there is something—a conundrum, a premise, a characteristic, a voice—that catches my attention and won’t leave. Writing the book or the poem becomes my way of indulging and exploring my fascination with whatever it is. The genesis for my debut novel-in-verse ALONE came from a gathering of our mother-daughter book club when my daughter and her friends were in fifth grade. We read Island of the Blue Dolphins and the girls were fascinated by how Karana could survive alone on an island. I pointed out to them that the island was her home, and she was comfortable there. The greater challenge was being alone for 18 years. I asked them to imagine what it would be like for them to come home after school to find everyone in the entire town gone. What would they do? How would they survive? What if they couldn't reach anyone for help? What if no one came back? I couldn't get the idea out of my head and it became the seed of the story of ALONE.

Louisa Onomé: Story ideas never really come to me fully formed; usually, they’re just a “wouldn’t it be fun to write this?” sort of thing and will include a scenario, an idea for a character, or a climax. I think most of the fun is trying to figure out what I was thinking of when the idea came to me. For example, with my debut book LIKE HOME, my main idea was wanting to write something about friends-as-family, and I told myself I wanted nostalgia and a yearning for the way things used to be at the centre. A lot of the main storyline began to reveal itself to me the more I wrote. I’m a pretty firm pantser (I can plot two chapters ahead if I absolutely must!) so I like to see where things go.

Melissa Hope: The more I read, the more I am inspired by new ideas. As soon as an idea pops into my head, I write down everything I can about it while the 'iron is still hot.' For my debut Middle-Grade, SEA OF KINGS, the initial idea came through worldbuilding. What if there was a world of tropical islands, and every island was a separate kingdom? From there, I started to imagine the world's politics and what characters would play a role in it. Developing the world fascinated me so much I couldn't let it go, and that's one reason why I fought so hard to get this book published. I have since been able to write more books and generate more story ideas than I have time to write! So an essential step in my creation process is documenting all of these ideas through notes, character profiles, pictures, and so forth. I never know when I'll be ready to jump into a new project and use these notes to produce my next book!

Thanks for stopping by; check back next month for our tips on plotting. (Better yet: subscribe so you never miss a post!)