How to Develop a Story Idea

An idea may have crossed your mind one afternoon, and you shout, "I've got an idea for my story!". You rush to your desk, sit down in front of your computer and then you stare... and stare... and stare until you decide to give up for the day. Have you been there? Me too, and it sucks! However, with these tips you'll be able to turn your story from a brief idea into a novel plan!

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Step 1 - Ask Questions

This is by far the best way to get those cogs in your brain turning! Once you've developed an idea, ask yourself questions to further that and know more. Some questions that may help are:

- Where did it come from?

- Who uses it?

- What is the world like?

- Is the location a nice, or rough place?

- Is the theme/feeling of the book warm or cold?

- What can go wrong?

- What is your characters backstory?

- How did it come to be?

Step 2 - Brainstorm

By asking yourself questions you should now have a deeper, less basic understanding of what your story idea is and how you can make a plot out of it. Now, you need to put that idea in writing. I don't mean begin writing the story, but write your notes down in a notebook, on a whiteboard or on your laptop so that you don't forget. Ways you can brainstorm include:

- Making a mind map

- Make a list

- Split into sections: worldbuilding, characters, plot, geography, magic system

Brainstorming can be tough sometimes, and it isn't something that happens in a day, not even in a week! If you find that you can't focus, try moving around and getting a change of scenery. Remember that there's no rush, it will come to you eventually!

Step 3 - Research

This should be done alongside your brainstorming. Many authors take inspiration from locations and countries when developing their world, but you can also take inspiration from clothing, music, food or whatever else. Research is a big part of a writer's journey and I won't even go into how crazy my search history is! The searches range from, 'How to deploy a parachute' to 'Scary mermaid images', and that's not even half of it!

Step 4 - Meet your Characters

Now that you know more about your world and you've done your research, it's time to meet your characters. This is one of the most exciting parts of beginning a novel for me! Start to think about the characteristics of your main character, what is their personality like? Who are their closest connections? Do they have family?

To help, go to this post to download a character development worksheet!

Step 5 - Use the Save the Cat method to build your plot

I've only recently started using the Save the Cat method, and it has been a game-changer! This method ensures that my book is captivating the entire way through, and it's super easy to use! In short, this method gives you story steps, called 'beats', where something should be done at a certain point in your story. This could be where you character has their life-changing moment, or when everything goes wrong. To find out more about the Save the Cat method, and download the beat sheets that I use, click here.

Step 6 - Start writing

There comes a time when a writer must realise that they're ready to write. You may give yourself endless excuses as to why you're 'not ready', but if you don't start writing, your story can't grow. You don't even have to have all the development planned out, for example you can use placeholders when you need to come back to something. I've done this recently in my new story. I knew I had to start writing, or else I might never begin my story, and so I used placeholder character names, and highlighted texts for words I need to change. For town names I used the word, 'London' and then highlighted it in red, knowing that this will need to change to align with my fantasy world better.

Remember that a first draft is supposed to be messy. All that matters is that you write.