On My Mind

-thoughts of a wife, mom, author, illustrator, juggler, toy designer, teacher, camp director, ...



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Story Starter #8: Inspiration

I have posted seven story starters for you all to think about and use as a springboard for your own creative ideas. There are many other ways to come up with ideas for your new manuscripts...

One method is to look at photos, magazines, and posters. If you are or are trying to become a kidlit author, you also need to read, read, read picture books old and new that are already published. Some will have illustrations or story lines that will inspire you to create a manuscript. Think about what that character might do after his or her problem is solved - does it spiral into a new problem? What might the character do the next day - would he or she get into a whole new kind of trouble? Preferrably, you can create your own main characters so maybe you think about the friends of the character of a book you enjoy. What would his or her friends be like and what would their problems be?

For me, my most recent inspiration is a book that my six year old checked out of the library. Don't Laugh, Joe! by Keiko Kasza has great page turns, kept my son and I both laughing (because the main character isn't supposed to), and made us want to read it a few more times before returning it. (I plan to buy it and add it to my collection of great books.)
Little Joe can't stop laughing. His mom is worried because she has to teach him to play dead when a predator is near and he can't do it without giggling and wiggling. This is a great example of an animal species that has to do something that they are supposed to be able to do but can't. Can you think of other animals that do odd things? You may have heard or read that publishers don't want animals that are personified so let them be animals and figure out what they can, or in this case, can not do.

Now ask some "What if" questions...
What if a bird can't fly?
What if a fish is born with a goofy fin? Oh wait - that is the basis of Finding Nemo.
What if a cat can't stay clean?
What if a dog can't bark?
What if a cricket can't chirp?

There are a million of these...
Get creative and do a little research on lesser known animals that do things like whistle, peep, dig, fly, climb, sniff...
Now write...

Post a comment below and let me know what inspires you?

9 comments:

  1. This is really helpful story starter tips! Thanks Alison!!!

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  2. We really enjoy Keiko Kasza's books. However, we haven't read this book. Thanks for the suggestion. I like the idea of using an existing PB to prompt your own writing.

    Congrats again on your successful month of blogging!

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  3. I write quite a lot of animal stories, so I love this tip. I also so want to read "Don't laugh Joe" now!

    Not surprised this bog is getting so many views, Alison!

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  4. Some great ideas here. I find inspiration in the natural world - I go outside, close my eyes and just listen. Then I try to engage other senses.

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    1. Magdalena, I love that. "Close my eyes and just listen." The more senses, the better.

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  5. I'm enjoying this series. Plus, looks like a fun book.

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  6. I like your story starters, Alison. I'm squeezing time this morning during the Comment Challenge. But I plan to come back when I can linger. As for what inspires my stories, poems, rhymes and other writing, it's simply keeping my eyes open to find the curiosities and humor in everything I encounter. There's just no end to it.

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  7. I did a Perfect Picture Book Friday for a Keiko book, "The Lucky Day" on my blog this week. I love her style of illustrations and storytelling. Thanks so much for the tips!

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