Published Author, Professional Storyteller & Writer, and Educator
Published Author, Professional Storyteller & Writer, and Educator
Published Author, Professional Storyteller & Writer, and Educator

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Tips for Creative Writing

Do you want to write, but don't know quite how or what to do? Here are some approaches to creative writing that might be of help.

Try any (or all) of these three formulas to get you started: (1) Take away something that is needed. Ex: Take away the lion's roar. (2) Give something to something that doesn't usually have it. Ex: Give a cupcake to a cloud. (3) Take something ordinary and make it extraordinary. Ex: Go to the door - open it - what's on the other side? A giraffe!

Start from a title. You may have a catchy title in mind that would provide the basis for a plot. As you plot your story, ask who, what, when, why and how questions to move your story along. (These words can also be used in the title.)

Questioning technique can get you started. Describe what something (or someone) is like. Ask What if? questions, and keep asking them to move your story along. Ask How did it come to be? As you answer the questions, the story will unfold.

Motif ideas can provide story lines. (1) Put your character in a bad situation. (2) Your character may receive a warning from an unusual source. (3) A magical factor can cause a personality change. (4) A deathbed promise leads to many possibilities. (5) A child searching for a lost parent, sibling, or friend. (6) A would-be champ seeks to correct a horrible injustice. (7) An evil character seeks revenge. (8) The revelation of the true identity of a person in disguise. (9) Intervention of magic to resolve a problem. (10) The loss and recovery of a valuable object. (11) Quest to discover identity, fame, fortune or love. Any of these motifs can get you started on a story you will be proud of.

Develop the plot. The plot is merely the events that take place in a story. Begin your story quickly and with force, by introducing the main character then plunging in to the action. Allow your story to unfold according to events, rather than explanations and descriptions. As you write, organize individual scenes around separate confrontations or conflicts. Keep the plot simple and easy to remember, and don't forget - the story is the important thing; not the message. As you write, consider using rhymes, repetitions and symbol patterns that the reader will become familiar with and enjoy. Tension will build as you write, but the ending will allow for the release of that tension and should satisfy the reader's sense of justice.

Bring your character to life. Meet your character before you even start to write - know everything about him/her (physical traits, characteristics, interests, background, etc.) Decide on the qualities you want your readers to know and recognize. Select one attribute and develop it throughout the story. As you write, insert things about the character along the way - the way he thinks, looks, speaks, dresses, acts, reacts, moves, etc. Don't attempt to put it all together in one sentence or even one paragraph! Spread it out!

Build the environment. Let the reader "see" the environment, or setting, through your choice of words. Environment includes landscapes, buildings, objects, things used, clothes worn, etc. Make sure the character uses the environment.

Relate to real life adventure stories. Real life stories can be interesting, but they often lack neat beginnings and endings so you will have to embellish them. Good story sources are from your own experiences, those of family, friends, and neighbors. Stories may be funny, sad, inspirational, or turning points in life. Set up the story with your plot, character(s), setting and feel free to embroider, exaggerate, invent details, be more dramatic, or whatever it takes to add to the story to make it "work." Think about what you want to say, and what your readers want to see (hear); then go somewhere in between. "Real" conversations are usually not too interesting and need to be spruced up.

Using words as story starters. Take any words from a list, from thoughts, from interests, or wherever you find words. Select a few at random and combine them for a story possibility. You may need to make several attempts, and when one clicks for you, start your story.

Using phrases as story starters. Make up your own phrase, select one from a written story or article, or ask other people to think of a phrase. Let the phrase be your jumping off point for a story possibility. Ex: We were camping on an island when the thunderstorm caused a power failure. (Where could this lead you?)

Why questions. Look around you and ask yourself "Why" and see if you can create a story around the question. Ex: Why do tigers have stripes? Why do butterflies have colorful wings? Why do raccoons have rings on their tails?

With any or all of these creative approaches to writing, you're ready to start your story.
What are you waiting for? Start writing - NOW!

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