You’ve decided to write a story…

I wrote this several years ago for my students as a guide and support to their writing

…. Have you got story to tell?

.…or do you just like writing?

….or is it homework?!!!

Writing is a craft which has to be practiced and experimented with. A story has to be worked on and polished as a gem cutter might polish a precious stone, or a jeweller buff up a piece of jewellery, or a wood carver rub beeswax into a carving. Some people are lucky enough to be able to just sit down and write but even they ‘dry up’ sometimes.  Like many creative activities writing really is 10% (or less) inspiration and 90+% perspiration. Some people like to plan their stories, some people like to let their stories unfold almost by themselves or as the characters develop.

If you already have a story, skip the next bit!


Where do stories come from? Here are some ideas:

  •  a dream or day dream
  • an observation of people in the street, on a bus, in a shop, on the beach, walking by a river…
  • people you don’t know but see arguing, kissing, ignoring each other, looking at each other, fighting, smiling secretively
  • an incident you observed or witnessed
  • a scrap of conversation you overheard
  • the lyric of a song
  • an experience you had
  • a strange coincidence
  • a traditional story, myth or legend which suggests a modern re-telling
  • another story you read, saw on TV or as a film, which suggests a situation, series of events, characters which you can rework to make your own
  • the ‘what happened next’ of another story
  • a what if… moment
  • unexplained inspiration
  • a found photo… who are those people? how are they related, why are they there? what is the occasion? what are they really thinking? who is taking the photo?
  • something you pretended happened to you
  • something you would have liked to happen to you
  • a news item
  • a picture in a gallery, museum, on a wall in a waiting room, in a newspaper or magazine
  • famous people, singers, actors, sports or TV personalities…
  • a film or a TV programme
  • a song
  • music
  • a mystery or puzzle
  • your own family or friends

Any of these suggestions can trigger a story, or a combination of several of these things. Once you have your story then the hard work begins!

However you write your story, whether it is meticulously planned or whether it almost writes itself, there are some things common to all story-telling. Some things are so obvious you may not have properly considered them, some are important even if you are not aware of them at first.


To be continued….


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