Nancy's Books

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Developing Ideas into Stories, Audience, Ask "What If", Call for Submissions for Writing by Kids, Writing Greeting Cards

An idea for a story just popped into your head. A phrase, a feisty character, or maybe a situation. The more you thought about it, the more the story played like a movie in your mind. Days, weeks, even months passed and the story wouldn’t go away. Like a pesky mosquito, it buzzed around in your brain. Sound familiar?

Writers use many techniques to develop story ideas. Some let stories mentally evolve until the characters are strong enough to come to life on paper. Others take an idea and immediately construct a character and plot. Different strokes for different folks. Regardless of how your spark originated-over time or on the spur of the moment-the job ahead is to develop it into a full-fledged account. Try these nine techniques to turn your ideas into stories. These ideas work equally well for professional writers and writers in the classroom.

Who is the audience? Is this story for a four year old or a fourteen year old? When we meet someone on the street and talk face-to-face, we adjust our speech and language to suit the audience. As writers, we have to recognize and understand the reading and interest level of our reader before we begin writing. A four year old thinks the word “underwear” is funny. A fourteen year old will probably roll eyes at the word.

Ask What if. What if a dinosaur came to lunch… What if everyone looked the same… Probe your character and plot with the What if question to develop your story idea. When your story comes to a screeching halt and you don’t know where to go with the plot ask what if. You may be surprised at the turn your story takes and the new ideas you will explore.
Next week, I’ll post part II of this article.


* Kid Spirit Magazine
KidSpirit Magazine is a unique, unaffiliated spiritual magazine written by and for 11 to 15 year olds. Our goal is to foster dialogue and understanding among kids of diverse backgrounds and traditions about values, spirituality and life's big questions. Free of advertising, KidSpirit empowers today's youth to explore deep issues and mankind's search for meaning in a spirit of openness. Each issue of KidSpirit Magazine is an invitation to look at a big question or idea from many vantage points.
Details at

*Polyphony H.S.
A student-run national literary magazine for high-school writers. Our title is a combination of the Greek term meaning many voices, and the abbreviation for High School. Polyphony H.S. was co-founded by Paige Holtzman (Latin School of Chicago ’06) and Billy Lombardo in August 2004. At that time, there was no other magazine like it in the country; that is, a professional quality, national literary magazine for high school writers, edited by high school students from public, private, and parochial schools; and there is still nothing like it in the world. Not only do our editors invite high school writers to submit their work for professional publication, but also they give editorial feedback to every author who submits a manuscript. This extends to continuing a dialogue with accepted authors in an effort to strengthen each piece.

* Amberley Greeting Card Co.
PAY: $150/card idea
Seeking humorous cards only. Submit maximum 10 ideas per batch. Send SASE for writer's guidelines before submitting. Mail to: Dave McPeek 11510 Goldcoast Dr. Cincinnati, Ohio 45249.


  1. Look forward to reading part II of your article next week.

  2. Great. I'm glad you're enjoying it, Suzanne.