Writers are often asked, “How do you come up with your story ideas?”
And for those who don’t write, or who are just starting out, coming up with enough ideas to carry you through a life-long career, much less ideas that follow a standard story structure and resonate with readers, might seem like an impossible task. But I’m here to show you (both writers and non-writers) that it’s not as hard as you might think.
For example, my husband is actually a very creative person. He really undersells himself. He’s written up a few short pieces for me when he gets an idea, and I file them away to cannibalize later in some form or another. But the fact is, his short pieces are actually pretty darn good. And he’s the BEST when it comes to creating awesome character names! Nevertheless, when I urge him to explore his own storytelling capabilities, he balks and says “But I’m not very creative!”
However, that’s bollocks.
And if you think you’re not very creative, either, that’s probably bollocks, too. Because here’s the thing: human beings are naturally creative. We are instinctive problem-solvers. That’s why those places that make you pay to be locked in a room and solve puzzles and riddles to get yourself out are so wildly popular. We thrive on solving problems, large and small. And I think this is a huge part of why we are so attracted to stories of all kinds.
Because all stories are centered around one thing: conflict.
And at it’s heart, conflict is simply a problem that needs to be solved.
The how that problem is solved is what makes up the story.
Back when I first returned to writing my original stories after a long hiatus, I struggled with idea creation. When I searched for help on the matter, scores of experienced, career authors simply kept saying, “Just ask yourself ‘What if?’ Keep asking yourself ‘What if this happened? What if that happened?’ and eventually you will have a whole story.” But this didn’t make sense to me at the time. I would ask myself “what if…?” and was still just as lost as I had been before I asked the question.
Which brings me back to my dear hubby, who claimed he wasn’t creative. To him, being creative feels foreign, because he hasn’t exercised that muscle enough. It’s there, though, and all you need to do is flex it now and then, and you’d be AMAZED at what comes out once you give it a little work! But to get the creative juices flowing, if you are stuck or haven’t written for awhile, or maybe if you’re just getting started like I was all those years ago, you might need a little extra guidance to get that engine rumbling. Which is precisely what I really needed back in the day, when I kept asking that core question of “What if?” and got nowhere.
But you can do it! Just as my hubby could do it!
Unwittingly, in talking with him about his own creativity, and in demonstrating to him how easy it was to come up with the basic premise for a story, The Tale of the Pink Bunny was born. And when I reflected back on that tale, I realized it could be used as a simple guide for the creation of a story … any story at all!
“What the heck is this Tale of the Pink Bunny!?” you might be asking. Let me fill you in!
On a whim, I began guiding the hubby through the essential elements of story, letting him fill in each blank. As he filled in the blanks, a story about a pink rabbit who wanted to escape her life as a pet emerged. By the end of the story, the hubby came up with a brilliant climax all on his own, and then added a super tragic twist, too. I was very proud of him! While we decided in the end that the tragic twist was just too much for such an adorable tale about a pink bunny, the point is that in a span of about 5 minutes, a person who doesn’t write stories created a very viable story with a character who was motivated toward a goal, a conflict, proper story structure, a climax, and resolution (even a huge plot twist!). In 5 minutes! It can be done. It IS possible.
So don’t despair!
If you’re stuck, or you want to get those creative juices flowing again after a long hiatus, or you write regularly but are just looking for some more guidance when it comes to creating new stories and everything you find out there just confuses you more, I have the solution!
Let Barb the pink bunny guide you on your way!
I have broken down the little story my husband came up with into a Story Creation worksheet. I put the guiding questions on this worksheet, and left blanks for you to fill in your own answers, with the tale of the pink bunny cited as examples in each section for inspiration. Here is a little preview of what it looks like:
This worksheet will guide you through creating your main character, your character’s goal and motivation, the main conflict of the story, and three plot developments, one of which can serve as the story’s climax, as well as the final story resolution.
If you’d like one of these worksheets for yourself, you can download it by clicking on the button below:
I do so hope this little worksheet will be helpful to you! Sometimes the right tool is all you need to open up a whole new world! Good luck to you, and happy writing!