Nancy's Books

Friday, October 16, 2009

Creating Ideas

Each week I will address one aspect of writing. This week, I'm writing about story ideas.

All stories begin with an idea. Novice writers and students often struggle with creating an idea for a story. Fictional stories need a problem or goal to hold the attention of the readers. The problem must have a solution and the goal needs to be attainable. The problem in the story is what is happening to the main character, also called plot. When I visit schools and conduct writing workshops with students, I avoid abstract definitions. Let's use the word plot as an example. An abstract definition might be a device to carry the story forward. What? Some students may question the definition wondering what it means; others may simply tune out the remainder of the class, already lost. Concrete definitions work much better with students. Again, using the word plot. A definition students can relate to is Plan Lots of Trouble. The definition is concrete and understandable.

So how do we develop an idea for a story? I've used this method with success for grades three and up. Noun + Action Verb + Problem

Think of a noun--a person or thing, such as a cat. Add an action verb that relates to the noun. Ask yourself, what problem could possibly happen?

Cat + Leap + Broke sister's favorite lamp

Again, ask yourself, what if my cat leaped and broke my sister's favorite lamp?

Try this method with three or four ideas. You just might develop an idea worthy of a story.

Next week, I will write about developing ideas for a personal narrative.


  1. So glad to find your helpful blog. The sky's the limit! Enjoy.

  2. Love your definition of plot-Plan Lots of Trouble and Noun + Action Verb + Problem. You ROCK!