Tag Archives: creativity

Fiction Writing: 3 Ways To Find Novel-Worthy Ideas

Fiction Writing: 3 Ways To Find Novel-Worthy Ideas

Hunting for ideas for your fiction writing? Finding novel-worthy ideas can be challenging.

You find a brilliant idea today. Then you look at it tomorrow, and wonder what you were thinking. The idea has died for you.

So, how do you find ideas for fiction writing which are worth exploring in 50,000 or more words?

Start by watching for what fascinates you.

Fiction writing: ideas from things that fascinate you

Not only do you want “great” ideas, you want to find ideas which will hold your interest. So, watch for things which grab your attention. If something holds your attention for more than an hour or two, there might be an idea hiding in it somewhere.

I read a lot of nonfiction to help me with my fiction. A month ago, I read a biography which described an event which made me go… “hmmmm….” After doing a little more research, I found that the event had never (to my knowledge) been covered in fiction.

This idea may well turn into a series of novels in a few months, because I haven’t lost interest in the event, and find myself thinking about it several times a day.

Now let’s look at some quick tips for finding novel-worthy ideas.

1. Read the news: who’s doing what? Why? Where?

Global and national news is depressing. Murder, mayhem, misery, and politics… For me, it’s also useless as a source of ideas.

However, if you write thrillers, crime fiction or adventure novels (or even fantasy) you might find the headlines fascinating for your next “snatched from the headlines” idea.

I prefer local news for idea exploration, because (generally speaking) it’s more relatable. Also useful to me: magazines which cover psychology and science.

When you find yourself reading a news article, and looking for more information, ask yourself: who? and why? You may find an idea. Be sure to keep the information you’ve gathered. And if you find yourself thinking of the news story a week from now, hunt for a potential character, and a story question in your idea.

2. Nonfiction can be a wonderful source of ideas

Over the years, I’ve collected my own reference library which I should browse for ideas more than I do. Frankly, I’m scared that I’ll find ideas which intrigue me so much that I’m forced to revise my current publishing program.

Explore your local library. I’ve found novel-worthy ideas in recipe books, history books, autobiographies and biographies… If you find a book which captures your attention, either make notes from it immediately, or check it out of the library. (If a book is truly useful, buy your own copy.)

3. You may find novel-worthy ideas in fiction

I’m not suggesting that you plagiarize a recent or past bestseller. However, every genre has tropes, which readers love.

In mysteries, common tropes include:

  • The closed room mystery;
  • A mysterious book, letter, or confession;
  • Strange case: the primary suspect who couldn’t have done it because… (but yes, he did it, in a very clever way)

Fiction writing from your life: can you fictionalize real life events?

I’ve had many questions about this over the years. My answer is usually: find something else to write about.

Here’s why:

  • You may get stuck on what “really happened” and forget to add drama and suspense (I know one author-to-be who’s been obsessing about something that happened in her life for the past ten years, and no novel in sight);
  • It’s challenging to write fiction about an event if any of the people concerned (or their relatives) are still alive;
  • My instinct and experience tell me that it’s almost impossible to do well if you’re a new author. Fiction is telling lies, and finding truths. Fictionalizing a real event takes a lot of distance from the event, as well as the ability to find meaning in it, and create drama from it. Experienced authors can do this. A new author often can’t.

Does this mean you should never try to fictionalize people or events from your own life?

No — definitely not. Every author can only write from his own experience, and only you are the judge of what works for your fiction writing.

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

eBook: $5.99

In this book we'll aim to increase your creativity to unlock your imagination and build the writing career of your dreams.

More info →
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Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

More info →
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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.

5 Productivity Tips: Avoid Distractions And Write More

5 Productivity Tips: Avoid Distractions And Write More

In our Team Up writers’ sessions, we’ve been discussing productivity, and our biggest challenges in writing more.

Productivity is a challenge for most authors. We can be busy, without being productive — we write and write, but we can’t seem to meet our deadlines.

Productivity: focus and write more

The biggest challenge? Distractions. No one in the group found concentration and focus easy. However, without focus, there’s little chance that we’ll write as much as we could.

Of course, some things are more distracting that others. It’s hard to turn off your phone; it’s a little easier to avoid Facebook. Various apps help you to avoid distractions, but goals work better, so that’s our first tip.

1. Set overall goals and daily goals for your project (Scrivener, and other writing apps help)

Scrivener makes it easy to set word count goals for a project, as well as for each writing session. Ulysses offers a similar feature; I know that other apps do too. Check the Help files of your favorite writing app.

When you know that you need to write a certain number of words in your session, you avoid Facebook and similar distractions until you’re done.

2. Sit down in a chair, open the document you need, and write 50 words

The hardest part of writing is getting started. So, as the old saying goes — place your butt in your chair.

Then write 50 words. You can write 50 words even on your worst day, when you have a blinding headache.

Keep up this process until it becomes a habit — it’s easier if you schedule your sessions, and sit down in the same place every day.

3. Handwrite or dictate your first draft (or choose a writing method that’s fun for you)

Few things are scarier than a blank computer screen.

Get some words onto the screen, any way you can. I either handwrite or dictate my first drafts.

On days when I’m feeling resistant to writing, I handwrite several pages. It helps that I have a fountain pen addiction, and enjoy writing with pens. Think about what you enjoy when it comes to getting those initial words.

I know one writer who writes her first drafts on her phone. She’s very productive, writing several books a year. I couldn’t write on my phone, but it works for her.

4. Know what you intend writing each day before you sit down

Not an idea in your head? Yep, this happens to me too.

However, over the years, I’ve learned to avoid this disaster by outlining several scenes ahead. For me, and for other writers too, this scenario, in which you’re trapped like a deer in the headlights, leads to procrastination… and your productivity dies.

By nature I’m a pantser. I’m happy to start writing when I know the basic story question of a novel, and my main characters. Then I create a mind map or two, and a rough outline of the next four or five scenes.

Unfortunately on some days I realize that — oh no… I’ve nothing outlined. My mind maps suddenly seem dreary and uninspiring.

On those days, I drop back two or three chapters. I reread those chapters, and then I’m good to go — I’ve got inspiration for the next several scenes.

If I’m in a panic because I know that I need a major plot twist (if the midpoint’s coming up, for example, and I realize that I haven’t laid the foundation for it); I might go back to the beginning of the novel, and reread until I’m inspired again.

5. Back yourself to success: no one else will, until YOU do

Without a doubt, the biggest productivity killer for authors is a lack of confidence. Sadly, self-confidence ebbs and flows. No matter how many books you’ve written, every book is a new experience.

One way to gain self-confidence (maybe the only way) is to back yourself. After all, no one else will, if you don’t.

Backing yourself is a decision. I’ve no idea how an author gets to the point where he makes the decision: I will succeed.

Whenever I’ve asked an author when he decided that he’d back himself to succeed, he said something like:

  • “I don’t know…” (sounding surprised);
  • “I decided that I would succeed, no matter what…”
  • “I got sick of my doubts — so I decided to ignore them…”

Decide to back yourself. You don’t need anyone’s validation. It’s your decision, and you need to make it for real productivity.

Onward. Happy writing. 🙂

Discover how to sell more books every day (in just 15 minutes a day)

You love writing books, but marketing them is a challenge. You’re not sure what works. You do know that you would sell more if you had a strategy for writing, publishing and marketing…

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Selling Writer Strategies
Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

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Want to write short stories? If you answered yes, that's excellent… Here's why. Today, you can make money writing short fiction.

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Cash In On Article Writing: Selling Writer Strategies 1

Cash In On Article Writing: Selling Writer Strategies 1

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Want to build a great writing career? If you're a writer today, you can: work the hours you choose; work anywhere you like; write (almost) what you like; AND make as much money as you like. There's no ceiling on your income. A great writing career can start with simple articles. Here's why. Marketing today is all about content, and content means words, and those words are often in the form of articles. Wordsmiths have it made.

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Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 3
Genre: Writing

How To Write Novels And Short Stories Readers Love: You're about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you're writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily.

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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction

You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels.

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Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 5
Genre: Writing

You're a writer. You need to make money from your words. What if you could create AND sell a nonfiction book in just a day?

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Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks

Plan, Write, And Publish Serial Fiction In Four Weeks

eBook: $5.99

Why write serial fiction?

Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.

It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.

If you’re a new author, a serial serves to introduce you to readers. A reader may not be willing to commit to a novel by a new author, but be willing to read an episode of a serial.

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Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.

3 Essential Creativity Tricks To Help You To Write A Book

3 Essential Creativity Tricks To Help You To Write A Book

“I’m not creative…” Have you ever said this to yourself? You may believe that creativity is essential if you want to write a book, but no matter whether you’re creative or not, there are easy tricks you can use to spark your creativity.

We’ll look at some of those tricks, but firstly, consider that perhaps you’re just not writing enough.

The more you produce, the more creativity bubbles up

This was recently brought home to me by a friend I hadn’t seen in years. We contributed to the same magazines, some 20 years ago. Although I’ve trained myself to be reasonably productive, she’s much more productive than I am, and also more creative.

In the past 12 months, she’s ghostwritten three trilogies, written 50 short stories, and writes for four blogs. This is in addition to writing several books for children with a collaborator, as well as publishing five cozy mysteries under one of her pen names. (She has several.)

“How do you do it?” I asked. “How do you become so creative? Tell me some tricks — I’m blogging about creativity tricks.”

She laughed. “You know the old saying, the harder you work, the luckier you get? The same applies to creativity.”

She’s right.

Here are three simple tricks you can use to inspire your own creativity.

1. Build a fence around it: limits make you more creative

Limits make you more creative, so set limits before you start writing your book.

For example, you might decide that your book will be about baking sourdough bread, rather than about “baking.” Or if you’re writing fiction, you might decide that you’re writing a cozy mystery with an amateur sleuth who has four children rather than “a novel.”

Even if you’re an experienced author, writing a book can be intimidating. You can choose to write about, and include, anything in your book. All those choices lead to indecision and procrastination.

2. Schedule time and space for creativity

Schedule time for creativity? That sounds strange, because your best ideas occur to you when you’re doing something unrelated to writing — I get great ideas in the shower.

If you want a regular stream of good ideas however, it’s best to schedule the time. Consider scheduling half an hour, or an hour, sometime on the weekend. Aim to brainstorm in an area which you don’t associate with writing.

For example, I write in my home office, but I do my brainstorming on the dining room table on Sunday afternoons.

3. Trust your intuition: it’s your unconscious mind at work

Creative people pay attention to their intuition. They trust it. They’re always listening for that still small voice which presents you with an idea, or an insight.

Meditation inspires creativity, and intuition. In this blog post, on writing goals, we talked about meditation:

Writing is much easier when you meditate (even if you think you can’t do it, the attempt is enough) because your focus carries over into everything you do and feel, for the rest of the day.

When you meditate for a short time each day, it seems to sweep the junk out of your head, so that you’re more open to intuitive and creative insights.

Writing is easier, when you trust your creativity

My friend’s right: the harder you work, the luckier you get.

You can’t be creative when you’re not writing. The perfect idea won’t slap you on the head like a whack from your fairy godmother’s wand.

Schedule time to write your book every day, and you’ll amazed at how creative you are.

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

Map It: For Writing Success — Fiction And Nonfiction Outlines Made Easy

eBook: $5.99

I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.

More info →
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

Yes, You’re Creative: How To Unlock Your Imagination And Build The Writing Career Of Your Dreams

eBook: $5.99

In this book we'll aim to increase your creativity to unlock your imagination and build the writing career of your dreams.

More info →
Buy from Scribd
Buy from Kobo
Buy from Inktera
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from Apple iBooks
Buy from Amazon Kindle

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.