When it comes to writing stories, ideas start like little seeds. There's a germ of an idea. Mine usually start with "what if." What if I write a fairytale in reverse? What if an historical object was lost? Who would find it? What would bugs say if they could talk?
Just like a seed, ideas must be watered, so they can grow. I call this "watering and nurturing" stage, prep time. When I'm prepping to write a story, I usually spend 2-3 weeks to establish my new world. I'm usually focused on:
With setting it helps to visit the place you've established for your world. If you can't, the Internet is a good resource to look at pictures. You can always watch a movie where the setting is the same, read a book or magazine, or talk to someone who has been there.
I usually cast my characters, establish biographies, (they can be long or short depending on your story) and ensure your characters have a flaw or a weakness. Not all characters are perfect. What makes characters relatable to readers are their flaws. Maybe your hero has asthma. Or maybe the heroine is stubborn, or sensitive about her nose – worse, her pimples. These are examples of things readers can relate to.
Your story must have a beginning, middle, and an end. The beginning usually establishes what type of journey the main character is going to take and hint at what they're going to learn along the way.
A theme is not necessarily a moral or a message, but it establishes a "backbone" for the message. For example, say your theme is 'facing challenges.' You could have your character live through a natural disaster. Your main character might have lost everything, but your message/moral might be there's always hope. People always step up to help other people. You can, too.
Once your prep work is done and you've complied your notes, you can work on a rough outline. I say rough because I find I must allow for some flexibility due to the characters wanting to do something I didn't plan for.
When I finally put pen to paper, I see my little seed popping out of the dirt and it is now a sprout. As the manuscript grows, so does my flower.
Questions: How do you go about researching/prepping to write a story? What themes have you incorporated into your stories? How do you appeal to the young adult/children's audience?
Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She loves chocolate and is addicted to coffee. She enjoys the outdoors and this year she went to Yosemite and camped out with her boys. Her books with 4RV Publishing include: The Giving Meadow and First Flag of New Hampshire.
First Flag of New Hampshire:
Can Aly and Miguel find the flag before the semester is over?
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