by Tracey M. Cox
Do you like putting together puzzles? I do. You start with a bajillion pieces, all scattered before you. Then, before you know it, you notice some of them are similar. Maybe one side is flat. These pieces, the colors all match. Or this group can make a face. So you begin to group them together. The pieces neatly fit here and there. Over there and over there. Look at that piece. It can go over with the first group.
Well we do the same thing as writers. We come up with a great idea. We are excited as we dump it out before us, but with this one idea things can get jumbled. So we…
1. Come up with a character. Every story has a character. So what makes yours special? Do they have super abilities? Are they fearless? Maybe a wild imagination. You can also determine fears. Name your character and have a conversation with them. Find out their likes and dislikes. Do they have certain mannerisms that spill over in how they react with people? Coming up with you main character can be as complicated as you want. They can be a boy or a girl, an animal or an alien, or something combined. Nailing down your character will help your story come together.
2. We need a setting! Where does this story take place? You can have it take place in a back yard. Maybe it’s on a farm where there are emus. Or you can be in the city and have the noise and hub-bub of the city racing by. Or you can be in the park and have a picnic or be there for a Little League game. OR you can be in outer space blasting around, searching for aliens. Maybe your character is the alien and you are exploring Earth and trying to figure out Earthlings. The main thing is every story needs to take place somewhere. Make sure your readers will be able to visualize where you are seeing.
3. Challenge, every story has challenges. Ahh. The problem. The DREADED problem. So what does you character have to over come? A new sibling? Trying to get rid of a dragon! Maybe there is something they fear, like heights or talking in front of people. What if there is a bully who makes fun of them. Problems are like our characters. They come in all shapes and sizes, but they challenge our characters and make them grow in a way that will leave the reader rooting for them and want to read your book again and again.
4. Backstory. Let’s not forget the juicy details. Some of this information won’t every appear in your story. BUT knowing the backstory of your character and their challenges, along with the setting in which it takes place can be very important to how you character will react. Does you child have a family? What about brothers or sisters? Do they really love a certain food and HAVE to have it with every meal? What about clothes… how do they dress? What do they like to wear. Most things don’t make the final edit, but for me make it easier to write my story when I know the details.
Now you may sort and piece together you story differently, and that’s okay. There is no formula on piecing together a great story. Mix it up see what catches you eye. Before you know it all those patterns and colors will come together and make a great story.
Go down each column and write ideas down for each. For character you may come up with: clown, fish, bat, boy, girl, dog, cupcake, car. For setting you may come up with: city, farm, table, school, pond, city pool. For challenge you may come up with: bully, heights, waiting, missing, water, disease, broken. You can use my ideas and expand on them, if you like. Now cut them up into individual pieces. In separate piles, gather together each ‘piece’ of your story. Give a good mix and randomly pick out a piece from each pile. No matter how crazy or odd the combination may be, come up with an idea.
Repeat for new ideas! These pieces, unlike a normal puzzle, are inner changeable. 🙂
Tracey M. Cox has been writing professionally since 2000. She is traditionally published with six picture books out. This Summer, her 7th picture book, The Children at the Playground, will be published by Xist Publishing.
Tracey is the host of Summer Sparks author, platform building consultant, and offers a critique service. Read more about her at www.traceymcox.com.
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2015 Summer Sparks post:
- Family Celebration by Tracey M. Cox
- Back Where I Come From by Tracey M. Cox
- The Benefits of Playdough: Molding your PB Idea Into A Story by Donna L. Martin
- Go Jump In a Lake by Tracey M. Cox
- Take a Vacay! by Tracey M. Cox
- How to Rhyme Right in a Picture Book Manuscript by Nancy Raines Day
- Don’t You Know that You Are a Shooting Star? by Tracey M. Cox
- Sun Burst by Tracey M. Cox
- Writing Tips from the Big Bad Writer by Pat Miller
- Get Out! by Tracey M. Cox
- Pieces by Tracey M. Cox
- Make Your Non-Fiction Leap Off the Page! by Jennifer Swanson
- Do the Twist by Tracey M. Cox
- Celebrate! by Tracey M. Cox