Sometimes, writing ideas just come to me without even thinking of a new idea. Very few times, I’ll stare at the wall, struggling to think of a story line or a good twist.
Well, one of the best tips to find that idea is view the world around you.
- Watch TV
- Watch Judge Judy or some of the other televised judges. Some of the stories people come up with for their cases would make for a good book, as long as you put in your own plot twist.
- Dateline / 2020 / or any of the crime drama shows.
- Read some of the classics. I’ve seen people write books with new spins off of Shakespeare or Grimm Brothers.
- Some of the stories in the Old Testament of the Bible can draw some wonderful plot ideas.
- Talk to people
- Talk to your grandparents. My grandma loves to tell stories of her grandparents when she was a child. They were Native American, so hearing of how they lived on a social level back in the early 1900s and the family drama is fascinating.
- Explore new locations
- If you have an extra day or so, pull out a map and take a day trip. Try to hit several towns / cities in that area to drive to. Visit museums, art galleries, coffee shops, parks in that area. Sometimes, just being in a new environments will give you that push you need.
L. R. Mauck
I know everyone has their own methods of how they write their characters. I have written in previous posts of how to make your character’s more real by adding personalities, flaws, and importance to write of the characters age level in regards to the readability of your own writing.
I want to take it a bit further with a suggestion that actually has helped me in the past. Physically surround yourself with the character’s situation. I don’t mean the situation as in trying to mirror the drama in your own life or actually go sword fight on a ship somewhere. However, I do mean to physically get out of your writing area and to explore the world.
- If your novel is a period dated story, then some evening, turn off your lights and write by hand in candlelight. Describe what your thoughts and feelings are with what you are experiencing. Does it make the area seem more relaxed, does it enhance other senses, etc. Consider making a small list to try and focus on what you want your character to think or feel before you do the exercise.
- Also, go explore antique shops and ask the owners if they have any pieces for the specific era your novel occurs. Go to a library and talk to the librarians or county records buildings with the genealogy. The majority of the time, those places will be able to give you contact information of local historians. Those historians not only know the local history, but since they love history so much, they are almost a walking encyclopedia who has studied other eras.
- If your character is in school, again go to a library. Try to remember what it was like in your own school library while you’re there. You may even run into teachers or retire teachers. Go to a few of the local high school sports games and write what it feels like to be there.
- If it is a murder mystery, serious contact your local police. See if you can do a tour or talk to a retired or active police officer. Depending on the community and restrictions, they even may let you do a ride along.
- If your story is a western, go to the farmer’s market. There will be a farmer there who always knows someone they can direct you to that can answer your questions. Or the local feed mills are always the hot place to get information.
There was a story I wrote years ago that I wanted a more real life take from, so I took up archery. Trust me, I can tell you in detail how horrible a bruise someone will get if the string snaps back wrong. I can now proudly say that I have hit bull’s-eye several times.
Any of these examples and more should be considered. HOWEVER, you MUST take notes. You may remember the experience for several weeks down the road, but you will start forgetting the smaller things such as answers you may have received or even the meaning of certain lingo of the industry.
My motto: keep writing, keep learning.
I’ve come to realize that writers are perfectionist because it is demanded of them, physically or metaphorically. So, to write an accurate book that won’t leave the readers questioning your story you need to do research. Researching can fall under many, if not all, genres.
For example, you may need know more about a specific location, historical information, even a trade. Even in fantasy’s, you may need to research different mythical creatures, legends, and warfare.
Where to find your research:
- Google / internet
- Search engine – ask very particular questions and click on more than one site.
- Wikipedia – though, I suggest to click on the source websites near the bottom
- Check out other blogs. They can offer plenty of insight
- view events
- search for local people to get a feel for their accents and terminology
- If it is a location – check out that locations webpages
- Go to libraries or book stores – sometimes you don’t know what to search for until you see it
- Talking / interviews
- If it is trade – call up or visit someone in the field
- Ask others for their opinions or what they would do in a certain situations
- If the location is near you or a similar event, go and experience it for yourself.
- If it’s a historical novel – check out Renaissance Fair
- Sometimes in order to get an accurate detail of knowledge, you need first-hand experience.
- This can be mentally reliving a close ones death – writing down what you though, felt, and experienced. Or remembering the first time you kiss your significant other.
- To get a feel of a historical fiction, I sat down at my antique writer’s desk, lit some candles and then used actual parchment, ink, and a quill to write what it felt like to be writing that situation.
I wish you luck in your writing. Keep learning, keep writing.
L. R. Mauck