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Then consider your protagonist and antagonist as a pair. Do they play well off of one another's fears and insecurities? For additional guidance as you get to know your story's key players, considering working through our Crafting Incredible Characters workbook. Now that you know who your protagonist and antagonist are, it's time to get to know what they want, as identifying your character's desires will lay the groundwork for your story's plot.

Begin by asking yourself the following questions:. What lie does my protagonist believe about themselves, others, or the world? What motivates my protagonist to take action to achieve their goal? What is at stake if my protagonist fails to achieve their goal? Repeat these questions for your antagonist if your story has one, keeping in mind the goals and core conflict you defined for your characters when you crafted your story's premise in step 3.

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Life is not lived alone — unless that's your story's key concept, of course. Now is the time to bring your characters' worlds to life by developing their core relationships. Who are the characters who will stand by their side as they work to achieve their goal? Who will challenge them? Consider as well the relationships that have shaped your character into the person they are when your story begins. How did or do these relationships affect your character's perspective, personality, fears, regrets, and beliefs?

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Now that you've developed your story's key characters and the cast that will fill out their worlds, it's at last time to get your story underway. Explore and outline your story's plot with the next four steps in today's breakdown:. Plotting is often best completed in waves, each expanding and filling in the work from the last. Begin defining your own plot now by mapping out the basics of the following major beats:. By gaining a strong, if not perfectly detailed, understanding of these six major story beats, you've built the framework for a well-plotted, well-paced novel.

The Ideas File | John Hunt Publishing

Now, let's work to fill in the gaps! Each of the major story beats you outlined in the previous step now serve as fenceposts to move between as you expand your story's plot. Keeping in mind your characters' goals, motivations, personalities, and perspectives, what actions can you reasonable expect them to take that would move them from Point A to Point B? What are the consequences of their actions?

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How must they adjust their action plans following each conflict? Take your time as you begin to move between beats. In some cases, you may brainstorm better scenes to take place during each beat as well. Don't be afraid to make changes. It's always easier to revise an outline than it is a written draft. As mentioned in the previous step, actions have consequences — but not all consequences are external.

And as these consequences continue to occur, internal character arcs are born. Take time now to consider how your protagonist, antagonist, and any major secondary characters are affected by the conflicts that occur throughout your story. How do their inner transformations or lack thereof reveal and build upon the themes your story presents? As you've plotted your story, you've naturally raised questions that will peak readers' interests.

Typically, these questions deal with your cast of characters. Who will succeed in achieving their goal? What's that character's big secret? Will those two characters ever reunite? Work through your outline to identify any such questions you raise throughout your story. Then double-check that you resolve each of these threads of tension by the time your story ends. As I've often said here on the blog, "Writing a novel is an endurance sport, a marathon of the mind.

You've succeeded in transforming your story idea into a fully-developed outline, but you'll struggle to transform that outline into a complete written draft if you don't also take time to prepare yourself to write. And so there remains one final step you must take before diving in:. A writer's success hinges on two key factors: mindset and practice. A successful writer learns to embrace their creative process, work through doubts and fears, forge a consistent writing routine, and find confidence in their ability to rock their writing.

For guidance as you establish healthy mindsets and prepare your writing practice, check out the following Well-Storied articles:.


Set yourself and your story up for success, writer, and there's no doubt in my mind that you can achieve your writing dreams. Here's to drafting with the clarity and confidence we crave! Exploring Your Story Idea Do they want to be here? Why or why not?

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Who is this character anyway? What are they like? One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A they were falling in love with each other while B the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately.

Agatha Christie's world-famous female sleuth, Miss Marple, was inspired by her own grandmother:. But I had no idea what the book would be like, how it would sound. I could see it, rather than hear it: a slow swirling backdrop of jewelled black and gold, a dark glitter at the corner of my eye. I woke one morning with some words in my head: "So now get up. It was the first sentence of my novel. Khaled Hosseini was inspired to write The Kite Runner after watching a news report based in his native Afghanistan:. And it was talking about all the different impositions that the Taliban had placed on the Afghan people.

So I sat down after that news story and wrote a page short story about two boys in Kabul flying kites, and it became this kind of a much darker, more involved tale than I had anticipated. A couple of years later, in March of , I rediscovered the short story in my garage, essentially, and it kind of became the inspiration for the novel. I was really tired, and the lines between these stories started to blur in a very unsettling way. Arthur Golden spent many months labouring over Memoirs of a Geisha but it took a chance meeting with a real-life geisha to turn the novel into an overnight success:.

Then a chance came along to meet a geisha, which, of course, I couldn't turn down. And she was so helpful to me that I realized I'd gotten everything wrong, and I ended up throwing out that entire first draft and doing the whole thing over again. She was very forthcoming with me. And, truthfully, what geisha don't talk about and what they don't want people to know about is their customers.

You know, the men go to tea houses with the expectation that they will have a nice quiet evening and not read about it the next morning in the newspaper. According to Atwood's own report the two women discussed 'various things as we usually do, including some of the more absolutist pronouncements of right-wing religious fundamentalism.

Kazuo Ishiguro came up with the English setting and protagonist of Remains Of The Day because of a joke his wife made:. There was a journalist coming to interview me for my first novel. We thought this was a very amusing idea.

From then on I became obsessed with the butler as a metaphor. I just wanted a good image on that first page.

43 Ways to Find the Best Book Idea for a New Writer

To me, that was gripping and vivid, and it stuck in your head. Only when I was writing it did I realize, at least to my mind, that it was also quite funny. But it was only funny if you described it in the voice that I used in the book. So the dog came along first, then the voice.

Wisdom from great writers on every year of life - Joshua Prager

So Christopher came along, in fact, after the book had already got underway.