There’s nothing worse than turning on your laptop and staring at a blank screen. You’re a writer, right? And writers write, right? So why can’t you come up with something to write about? Something that can help you greatly is to work to a story-line. Once you’ve got the bare bones of a story-line in place, it’s easy to flesh it out and put some meat on it’s bones.
But if you’ve never worked with a story-line, or created one, you’re still back at square one. Never fear, I’m here to help. In today’s blog post we’re going to look at 5 easy ways to either give you the beginning of a story-line, or how to work with a fully fledged for your next book.
1 – News – TV or Newspapers – We’re surrounded by stories on a daily basis. Whether it’s a mad dictator trying to bring the whole world into World War Three, or a woman that’s been rescued from flood waters, there always a news story you can work with.
Could you begin your book with that scene of the dictator testing his nuclear bomb, and then go backwards to what happened to get us to this point for your next thriller book? Or what if you’re writing an apocalyptic novel, could you use that scene and work forward from there, and show the life we have now because of it? Or is your book an alien invasion type book? Could those aliens be using that dictator for their own means and using him to take over world when it’s all over.
Then we’ve got the woman pulled from the flood waters. Could that be the beginning of your next romance book? How she lost everything, but over time fell in love with the firefighter that saved her life. Or a conspiracy story. What if the same lady was pulled from the water, but wasn’t a local woman and no one knew who she was? And what if her memory was gone. Could you build a story from those humble beginnings? I’m sure you could.
2 – Movies And TV Shows – We’ve all got our favorite TV shows. So why not use the bones of one to create your next short story or book? Now a word of advice here, you’re looking to create an original idea so don’t use it word for word or scene by scene. Play around with it. Take for example if I was looking for a story-line for my next kids book, I could use a story-line from Spongebob and replace the shows characters with my characters. And to make it more unique I would base my story on land and not underwater. Or maybe put it in space?
Or what about a movie that was great half way through and fell apart in the second half, could you rewrite it and give it the ending it deserved? Again this would involve your characters and not the movies ones. Or how about a mash up? Two of your favorite movies mashed up together. What if you combined Rambo with Starship Troopers, or Gone with the Wind with Independence Day?
In the first case, John Rambo could be on the run on an alien planet, and has to stay alive because he’s got the secret to ending the alien war. But a corrupted commander doesn’t want the war to end because they’ve been using at as a means of controlling humanity back on Earth.
In the second, a wealthy family who controls slaves on a faraway planet, stands to lose it all, when a spaceship filled with invading humans comes to their planet.
3 – Start With A Scene – Have you got a single scene in your head that you’d love to write? Then use it as a building block for your next story. Working forwards or backwards from that point, build the story that leads up to it and the story that went on after that scene has ended.
For example, say I had a scene that I’d love to put in an action book. It’s where a captive is being tortured and the torturer finds out that the victim isn’t who they thought they were. In fact they’ve found some metal and wiring under the victim’s skin. It looks like they’re not human.
Working forward from that point – I could write the next scene where the victim knows that his secret can’t get out of the room and a fight breaks out. He kills everyone, but one man gets away. The next scene I could have him running through a busy city center after the escapee. The next scene I could have him catch the man, kill him, but he finds a mobile phone in his hand with someone on the end of the line… and on and on I’d go building scene after scene.
Working backward from that point – I could write the scene about how the character got taken and brought to the torture spot. Did he give himself up willingly? Then I’d write a scene before that showing him walking into danger. If he didn’t give himself up willingly? I’d write a scene where he got tricked, maybe by a beautiful woman, and bundled into a waiting van and whisked away.
Now it’s your turn. Take a scene you’d like to write, and work forwards and backwards from there, building up a story-line you can use.
4 – Pick An Image – Like writing from a scene, work with an image and use it to build your next story-line. This is particularly useful if you’re writing an historical type book. Using a simple Google search, pick an image that speaks to you and use it for your scene.
Take for example the image above. We’ve got a group of men posing after finding gold. If I was writing a romance novel in the mail order bride genre I could use it for my book.
Although happy with his find, the man on the left is lonely. Little does he know that this picture is going to be featured in a lot of papers and it’s going to draw a lot of female eyes to it. One of those women is a woman he thought he’d never see again. She left his home town when he was younger, breaking his heart in the process. Now a widower she’s intent on hunting him down and telling how much she really loved him…
And on and on I’d go, building backstory and fleshing out each scene until I had a story-line I could work with.
5 – Life Experience – Why not use a life experience of yours? You know what happened and how it ended. If it was a health scare, you could write a book about a woman/man who went through the same situation as you did. Of course how you’d handle it would depend on the genre you were writing.
A policeman overcoming a heart attack would have a completely different story-line from a workaholic business woman that needs to rethink her life.
Even how you and your husband got together could be the beginning of your story line. In your romance book, that chance mistake of going to the wrong house, crashing into his car, or falling in the grocery aisle, could be just the ticket to get you started.
And there you have it, 5 great ways to come up with a story-line for your next book. I’m sure you’ve got a ton of ideas in your head right now all looking for your attention. Now it’s your turn to grab one and run with it. I look forward to see what you come up with.