Nancy's Books

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Turing Ideas Into Stories, Contests for Adult and Student Writers

Today, I’m continuing with part II of my article on techniques to turn your ideas into stories. These ideas work equally well for professional and student writers.

Choose a perspective. Who is telling the story? Try different characters to determine which could tell the story in the most compelling way. If three kids and a dog were lost in the mountains, which character should you chose to tell the story. The serious kid? The smartest kid? The funny kid? How about the dog?

Try word associations. Write the first thing you think of when you see each of these words: snowballs, moon, skunk, rainbow, museum. For example, skunk and stink could work well together in a humorous tale. So could snowballs and fight. Try associations that we would usually not associate. Moon and museum could be interesting, as well as skunk and rainbow.

Remember moments from your childhood. Did you have a special toy or an imaginary friend? Did you fear a bully? A memory can inspire a story. Don’t feel compelled to stick with your memories. Use the memories as a starting point, but not to play out the whole story. Real people shouldn’t be recognized in fictional characters. Let your imagination soar as you take the idea to new heights.

The hub of the story consists of two elements: character and conflict. The character needs to aim for a goal or experience a problem and must reach the goal or solve the problem on his/her own. Ask these questions. Who is the character? What does the character want? What is standing in the way of the character getting what she wants? When you answer these questions, you have a story idea. Other elements, such as setting, can be added later.

Next week I’ll post part III of this article.

Maximum Ride Writing Contest
Write a missing chapter in a James Patterson book.
Entry date May 31, 2010
Details at

2010 Torrance Legacy Creative Writing Awards
DESCRIPTION: Overall Topic – Creativity Expressed in Writing
Accepted Genres: Poetry and Stories

Poetry Topics:
“The Celebration Of Life”
“What Do You See In Life And How Do You Respond To It?”

Story Topics:
“Building Sand Castles”
“Crossing Out Mistakes”
“Listening For Smells”

Students in grades 4 through 12.

Entry date: We will begin accepting submissions on March 1, 2010. All submissions must be postmarked by August 2, 2010. Entries may also be submitted electronically on this web page starting March 1, 2010.

Details at


  1. OOPS! Turning ideas into stories,that's what I intended to write. Sorry!

  2. Enjoyed reading the second part of Turning Ideas Into Stories. Look forward to reading part III next week.

  3. Great! Playing with ideas and determining which character will tell the story takes time, but can make the difference in landing a contract. Sometimes it pays to go for something different to catch the eye--and heart--of an editor.